Pages Menu

Categories Menu

Posted on Nov 12, 2010 in History News

Will Nicaragua and Costa Rica fight the first ‘Google War?’

Gerald D. Swick

To borrow a phrase from Otto von Bismarck, "The next time war comes, it’ll probably be over some damned thing on Google."

Bismarck’s original remark concerned war coming to Europe, and what he said was "some damned thing in the Balkans"—which proved tragically correct in 1914. Today, a Google goof is being blamed for increased border tensions between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The two countries have been clashing over rights to the San Juan River for over 150 years now. Recently, on Google Maps the border between the two countries was placed nearly two miles into the Costa Rican side of the disputed area. Nicaraguan troops camped in the area this week. Costa Rica gave them a 48-hour ultimatum to leave and dispatched security forces, but it has no standing army. The matter has been referred to the Organization of American States and may go to the United Nations.


Google Maps have misplaced borders in the past, in Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean. Yellow journalism in America often gets blamed for fanning flames that led to the 1898 war between the US and Spain. Will the world one day see a "Google War?"

And to think, I was annoyed when Google showed a radio station where I was scheduled to do an interview on the wrong side of an interstate.

Here’s a link to more on Google’s misplaced borderline.

Read some background on the historical disputes between Nicaragua and Costa Rica at this link.

1 Comment

  1. The problem is not river rights. The century and a half old treaty clearly gives the river to Nicaragua, but permits Costa Rican crafts to navigate its waters for commercial purposes. Machiavelli recommended attacking a neighbor in the event of problems at home. Could it be that this is all a ploy by Ortega to unite the Nicaraguan people while there is unrest at home? Ortega recently rejected a order from the Organization of American States, saying that the foreign policy of Costa Rica is made by narco-traffickers. Pastora, by the way, has businesses and a home in the Puntarenas area of Costa Rica. Talk about biting the hand that feeds him… And the sabre rattling continues.


  1. Where on earth? « bestofbermuda - [...] Google don’t lie (apart from the Nicaragua issue and the Parsley Island issue, but we’re certain they are right…