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Disputed Territories

Abroad, Google Maps has waded into raw, tender issues of national identity. For example, take its depiction of Crimea on maps.google.com, where a dashed line reflects the U.S. view that the area is an occupied territory. But in Russia, on maps.google.ru, the boundary line is solid — Russia has officially annexed Crimea. “We work to provide as much discoverable information as possible so that users can make their own judgments about geopolitical disputes,” wrote Robert Boorstin, the director of Google’s public policy team, in an interview with Washington Monthly. Maps served from Russian servers must adhere to Russian laws and the Russian worldview, according to Google. But the company can't possibly create enough maps to make everyone happy. Below, we've collected notable examples of how Google's maps of disputed territories differ depending on who's looking at them. (Last updated June 22, 2014)

Aksai Chin Administered by China. Claimed by India.

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"Aksai Chin is one of the two main disputed border areas between China and India, the other being Arunachal Pradesh. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County in the Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962 China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control." (Source: Wikipedia)

U.S. Google Maps users see:

Users in China see:

Users in India see:

Arunachal Pradesh Administered by India. Claimed by China.

"Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 29 states of India. Located in northeast India, Arunachal Pradesh borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east and the People's Republic of China in the north. Itanagar is the capital of the state. China and ROC claim most of the state as part of Tibet and call the disputed area South Tibet." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan Administered by Pakistan. Claimed by India.

"Azad Jammu and Kashmir abbreviated AJK or, for short, Azad Kashmir (literally Free Kashmir) is an autonomous administrative division in Pakistan ... It [and Gilgit–Baltistan were] part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to exist as a result of the first Kashmir war in 1947, fought between India and Pakistan." (Source: Wikipedia)

U.S. Google Maps users see:

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Bhutan (Chumbi salient and northwest valleys) Administered by Bhutan. Claimed by China.

"Bhutan's border with China is largely not demarcated and thus disputed in some places. Approximately 269 square kilometers remain under discussion between China and Bhutan." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Crimea Administered by Russia. Claimed by Ukraine.

"Sovereignty and control of the peninsula became the subject of the ongoing 2014 Crimean crisis, a territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Demchok Administered by India. Claimed by China.

"Demchok is a small village and military emcampment in the Indian-administered part of the disputed Demchok sector south of Aksai Chin, in the Leh district of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) passes along the southeast side of the village, following a wadi just upstream from the nearby Indus River. Across the wadi, less than a kilometer away, is a Chinese-administered village, called Dêmqog, which was once part of Demchok. It is part of the Ngari Prefecture within Tibet." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Jammu and Kashmir Administered by India. Claimed by Pakistan.

"Formerly a part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, which governed the larger historic region of Kashmir, this territory is disputed among China, India and Pakistan. Pakistan, which claims the territory as disputed, refers to it alternatively as Indian-occupied Kashmir or Indian-held Kashmir, whereas some international agencies such as the United Nations call it Indian-administered Kashmir. The regions under the control of Pakistan are referred to as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or PoK within India, as “Azad” Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan, and as Pakistan-administered Kashmir or Pakistan-controlled Kashmir generally." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Pinnacle Islands Administered by Japan. Claimed by China and Taiwan.

"The Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands in Mainland China or Diaoyutai Islands in Taiwan, or the Pinnacle Islands, are a group of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea. They are located roughly due east of Mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands ... The islands are a contentious issue in the foreign relations between Japan and [China] and between Japan and [Taiwan]." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Shaksam Valley Administered by China. Ceded to China by Pakistan. Claimed by India.

"The Trans-Karakoram Tract is an area of nearly 2,239 sq mi along both sides of the Shaksgam River, is entirely administered by the People's Republic of China as a part of Kargilik County and Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in the Kashgar Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but claimed by Pakistan until 1963. It is claimed by India as part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Siachen Glacier Claimed by Pakistan and India.

"The Siachen Glacier is located in the eastern Karakoram range in the Himalaya Mountains ... Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the entire Siachen region." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Spratly Islands Claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei.

"The Spratly Islands are important for a number of reasons: the Spratly area holds potentially significant, but largely unexplored, reserves of oil and natural gas; it is a productive area for world fishing; it is one of the busiest areas of commercial shipping traffic; and surrounding countries would get an extended continental shelf if their claims were recognised." (Source: Wikipedia)

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Users in Bahrain see:

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Tirpani and Bara Hotii valleys Administered by India. Claimed by China.

The Tirpani and Bara Hotii valleys are on the eastern side of the border between India and China / Tibet, part of a larger ongoing border dispute. (Source: Wikipedia)

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