The boring life of Jerod Poore, Crazymeds' Chief Citizen Medical Expert.

Alternative History Cartography: Japanese Division

I don't expect much in the way of accuracy from a globe that's a paper balloon (kami fuusen).  For what it is the geographic features and political boundaries are pretty good; far more accurate than the wildly distorted boundaries of the Ohio Arts globes I'm so found of.  The errors that are here, accidental or intentional, are still amusing.

As the globe is from Japan I'm hardly surprised the Kuril Islands are depicted as Japanese territory, so that doesn't count.

The globe was designed in, or based on maps from early 1990.  This is easily apparent as Germany and Yemen are divided, the Baltic states are independent, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia haven't broken up, and Eritrea is still part of Ethiopia. 

While the most sloppily rendered section, the European nation states are relatively accurate for that time; allowing for Belgium and Luxembourg being too small to bother with displaying, and Switzerland and Italy being too similar in color to show up in this picture.  Someone had it in for France.  So far so good, right?

Now we get into the parallel universe.  In addition to losing the Baltic states, the USSR has split into Soviet Russia (approximate translation) and Kazakhstan (Kazafusutan), which is comprised of all of the Soviet Stans.  It's not clear from this picture that Afghanistan is an independent state as it's the same color as the super-sized Kazakhstan.

In spite of the pro-Stan stance the cartographer had, Pakistan got the short end of the stick when it comes to Kashmir.  India has full control of it.  But what the cartographer gave with one hand, the cartographer has taken away with the other.  It looks like the separatists in Northeast India got what they wanted.  Almost.  Instead of being an independent nation they're part of the unlikeliest country on the planet to have any territorial ambitions: Bhutan!  Some of the states joined with Bhutan, Burma grabbed the rest and half of Bangladesh as well.

In the early 1960s the Malay states, Sarawak, Sabah, Singapore and Brunei were trying to come to terms with their numerous conflicting, ethnic, religious and political forces and enclaves as they struggled for independence.  Eventually the first three formed what is now Malaysia, Singapore became a city-state, and Brunei decided to remain a British Protectorate until 1984.  At the time there were all sorts of possible outcomes, and an independent North Borneo Federation was one of them, albeit an unlikely one.  Especially unlikely was naming the federation Brunei and moving Bandar a few hundred miles west.

At first I thought they considered Microsoft's headquarters as the co-capital of the United States.  Nope.  That's Toronto.  Why Toronto is in Washington state and when it replaced Ottawa as the capital of Canada are the greatest mysteries of this globe.

I don't know who makes this globe, but you can get one of your own from J-List.


Anonymous said...

"Someone had it in for France. So far so good, right?"


Neuroskeptic said...

Sweden and Finland seem to have merged or rather re-merged, because Sweden used to include Finland...

Jerod Poore said...


I need to reread my posts more than I do. That is more awesome than I meant.


Excellent catch!

At least I have some good excuses. I probably missed the absence of Helsinki because the tail end of Sweden (Suwaeeden) is where Helsinki should be. The rivers that form parts of the border are shown covering the entire approximate location of the border. And in spite of using at least six colors, the cartographer still used the same color for adjacent countries (Afghanistan & Kazakhstan, Ivory Coast & Guinea & Liberia, Somalia & Djibouti).

I bet the cartographer thinks the four- and five-color theorems have to do with matching clothes.