Geographic editors revise atlas for changing world

November 14, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Expanding democracy and advancing technology are represented in National Geographic's sixth "Atlas of the World," which includes a map of a united Germany that was revised at the last minute.

"Not since World War I have we seen such major changes in governmental order on planet Earth," Gilbert M. Grosvenor, president of the National Geographic Society, said yesterday as he unveiled the new atlas. "If ever the world needed an atlas, it is now."

The consolidation of East and West Germany, the unification of the two Yemens and the official renaming of the Burma to Myanmar are some of the changes cartographers made in the last National Geographic atlas published nine years ago.

The section on Germany, in the process of merging two nations into one, was left for last. But finally the Geographic had to go to press.

The editors took a chance and designated two capitals: Bonn and Berlin. But the Germans outfoxed them by choosing just Berlin.

The presses ground to a halt. The map of Germany and some of the text was changed.

The society currently is monitoring several "hot spots" that may require changes in future maps, said John Garver, the Society's chief cartographer. The areas include Quebec, Hong Kong and Kuwait.

"There were great changes in atlas No. 6," Grosvenor said. "But I suspect there will be much greater changes in atlas No. 7." The next atlas will be published in about eight years.

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