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Borderlines
January 17, 2012 9:49 AM   Subscribe

"Countries are defined by the lines that divide them. But how are those lines decided — and why are some of them so strange? Borderlines [a New York Times column by Frank Jacobs of Strange Maps] explores the stories behind the global map, one line at a time." The latest in the series: "The Loneliness of the Guyanas," and the inaugural essay, "In Praise of Borders."
posted by ocherdraco (17 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fascinating, thank you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2012


Excellent! I just read the Guyanas article before coming here. Sadly, because of my own limitations including perhaps a lack of afternoon coffee, I didn't think "That would be a great MeFi post" while on the way over.
posted by mollweide at 10:15 AM on January 17, 2012


Needs moar maps

But otherwise a super-cool idea for a series.

And I love it that France still has a colony. It's so, quaint.
posted by Windopaene at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2012


Terrific post. Talk about cartographic orgasm. (But yeah, the only way this could be better would be more maps.)
posted by blucevalo at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2012


French Guiana isn't a colony of France, it is a full-fledged department, the same as Paris or Cote-d'Or in Dijon.
posted by Falconetti at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Windopaene: And I love it that France still has a colony. It's so, quaint.

Depending on how you define it, most of the European colonial powers still have colonies. This handy map shows the overseas territories granted special status within the European Union, it also goes into colonies which are excluded for one reason or another (e.g. Faroe Islands, Gibraltar and the two Spanish cities in North Africa). Of course, plenty of non-European states have colonies of one stripe or another. This equally handy map shows the various territories of the US that aren't fully fledged states, and the Wikipedia article it's from explains what the different kinds are. Some countries that still haven't quite broken away from their old colonial power retain some overseas territories of one stripe or another, like Australia and New Zealand. It could be argued that Canada's relationship with its northern regions is that of a colonial power to its colonies, but then you're entering an area of discourse where people spend most of their time arguing over terms and what they mean, so it's perhaps best to stop there.
posted by Kattullus at 12:16 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: an area of discourse where people spend most of their time arguing over terms and what they mean.

I could not resist...

posted by ocherdraco at 12:36 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The status of DOM-TOMs are weird.
posted by maryr at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2012


Map of overseas departments of France. France is spread out across the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans. via French Wikipedia, which hopefully won't be blacked out in a few hours.
posted by plep at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2012


Along similar lines for the U.S., I can recommend the book How the States Got Their Shapes. There's a one hour lecture by the author online.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2012


I had figured that the relationship of French Guiana to France was something like that of Alaska or Hawaii to the US. I'm not sure how accurate this is, though.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:24 PM on January 17, 2012


Here's a talk, in part about a particular border dispute involving Werner Herzog and a Native South American tribe.
posted by MrFish at 7:12 PM on January 17, 2012


I had figured that the relationship of French Guyana to France was something like that of Alaska or Hawaii to the US. I'm not sure how accurate this is, though.

I think Puerto Rico would be a better comparison. They have most but not all of the rights/responsibilities of American citizenship, yet many people still aren't certain if you need a passport to visit.
posted by maryr at 8:14 PM on January 17, 2012


Very cool. I look forward to reading further posts.
posted by kjs4 at 1:35 AM on January 18, 2012


Thanks for sharing this. I read it yesterday and wanted to share it with the world, but somehow never made the link to posting it to Metafilter. (duh)
posted by whatzit at 3:05 AM on January 18, 2012


maryr: I think Puerto Rico would be a better comparison.

I think Hawaii is probably the best comparison. Guiana has seats in both houses of the French National Assembly, like the other overseas departments.
posted by Kattullus at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2012


When I was in New York, I had a co-worker who was an Indian-Guyanese. I didn't know they existed until then, let alone a plurality.

As for French Guiana, there's a small independence party. I think the Guyanan Shield business is really important here: it didn't just protect them from the Iberian languages, but from the political currents that swept up and down the Americas.
posted by dhartung at 1:28 PM on January 18, 2012


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