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Monday, April 11, 2016

Geography Again

Now that I am really learning my geography, and I know where even the newest countries are--even disputed territories, even the tiniest ones--I find that I am taking a personal interest in them.

I'm excited that Burkina Faso will be playing Uganda in football (what Americans call Soccer) and I'm concerned about Boko Haram's attacks there, in a region already in trouble due to Nigeria's instability and the reappearance of Ebola in Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Look how small those latter countries are and how close together. You can see how Ebola in the region would travel through the forest. Look how it fits together.  

Speaking of how things fit together,  the news lately has been focused on the sensitive area of Nagorno-Karabagh, a long-standing point of contention between Armenia and Azerbaijan, I know that Nagorno-Karabagh sits in a little pocket between Turkey, Iran and Russia, next to another small country, Georgia. Glance at the map--you can see immediately that instability in a region already shuddering from Syria's instability does not need a further war.  The area is, yes, in Azerbaijan, but is controlled by Armenia's. When you figure in that Azerbaijan is mostly Muslim, Armenia mostly an Eastern Orthodox version of Christianity, and you add that 90% of Azerbaijan's economy is linked to oil, while Armenia is dependent on trade and raw resources, like oil, the area is a hot point. Especially when you figure in Putin and his dedication to arms sales. 
image from the latest outbreak of fighting
I'm beginning to think that every news story should include a map, and a topographical map. Imagine if you were sitting in, say, Rifle, Colorado, or Visalia, Missouri and your tiny newspaper's story about Ebola included a forestry map, making clear that the wilderness in West Africa is all interconnected, and travel of the virus doesn't have to follow roads or stay within boundaries! Imagine if that were included in every online news story, top of the page. Do you think that would help Americans, who are notoriously ignorant about the rest of the world, be more connected? After all, a year ago, I might have thought Burkina Faso was in Asia somewhere.  

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