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Geocaching countries


Ingabo
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I am a frequent traveller and like to visit new places and countries not only for the caching but also for seeing new areas. It struck me recently when looking through the list of countries at gc.com that I did not have the same opinion on what is a country and which not. Perhaps my opinion is of less importance here but the opinion of other states and countries should perhaps have a heavier impact ?

Let me take one example. Kosovo is a country respected amongst many other countries like the US government as an example but it is not respected by gc.com as a country instead it is called Serbia. If you talk to people in Kosovo this is the last country they want to become associated with. So why does gc.com cluster a country with a legitimate government controlling its own territory and borders with another country ?

It would be great to hear the opinion from the responsible for the country list at gc.com. Since I do not know who this is I post this question here.

Greetings from Sweden // ingabo

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The gist of the post that HHL references is that GS is not making up their own list of countries and territories but has aligned the list of country/regions with an authoritative list that is frequently used by other software applications that need to use geographic place names. The Standard Country and Area codes classification from the U.N. (also called the UN Geopolitical Ontology) is a standard, and like any good software application using existing standards makes sense. In this case, the Geopolitical Ontology also closely aligns with an International Standard for Country Codes and codes for their subdivisions called ISO-3166 (http://www.iso.org/iso/country_codes). If you look at the ISO-3166 standard the "official name" for Kosovo is listed as Serbia.

 

In practice history has shown that maintaining an update to date list of countries/regions that aligns with the standard has not always been a high priority. When South Sudan split off from Sudan, South Sudan was split off as a separate country within a week or so (perhaps the fact there there were no caches in South Sudan made that easy). However, in 2010 the country formally known as Netherland Antilles split up into several constituent countries (St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Saba, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba) but if you look at caches on the island of St. Martin you won't find any listed as in Sint Maarten and some are still listed as Netherland Antilles (which brings up the question of whether the name of the country at the time the cache as place should be retained).

 

 

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The gist of the post that HHL references is that GS is not making up their own list of countries and territories but has aligned the list of country/regions with an authoritative list that is frequently used by other software applications that need to use geographic place names. The Standard Country and Area codes classification from the U.N. (also called the UN Geopolitical Ontology) is a standard, and like any good software application using existing standards makes sense. In this case, the Geopolitical Ontology also closely aligns with an International Standard for Country Codes and codes for their subdivisions called ISO-3166 (http://www.iso.org/iso/country_codes). If you look at the ISO-3166 standard the "official name" for Kosovo is listed as Serbia.

 

In practice history has shown that maintaining an update to date list of countries/regions that aligns with the standard has not always been a high priority. When South Sudan split off from Sudan, South Sudan was split off as a separate country within a week or so (perhaps the fact there there were no caches in South Sudan made that easy). However, in 2010 the country formally known as Netherland Antilles split up into several constituent countries (St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Saba, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba) but if you look at caches on the island of St. Martin you won't find any listed as in Sint Maarten and some are still listed as Netherland Antilles (which brings up the question of whether the name of the country at the time the cache as place should be retained).

 

Thanks for this thorough explanation. I should have realised that there are political incitaments behind the scene making things more complicated. Gc.com has also no interest or resources on their own to monitor this playground. There are other strange examples the other way around too. Isle of man, Guernsey, Jersey and Åland are definite parts of other countries but are recognized as own countries. And as you mention above a more recent example. Yes, it gets tricky when deciding if a cache found before a certain date goes into the old or new country.

OK I will not bother more around this since it arises more questions than it gives answers. Great to get these good answers and really fast too !

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The gist of the post that HHL references is that GS is not making up their own list of countries and territories but has aligned the list of country/regions with an authoritative list that is frequently used by other software applications that need to use geographic place names. The Standard Country and Area codes classification from the U.N. (also called the UN Geopolitical Ontology) is a standard, and like any good software application using existing standards makes sense. In this case, the Geopolitical Ontology also closely aligns with an International Standard for Country Codes and codes for their subdivisions called ISO-3166 (http://www.iso.org/iso/country_codes). If you look at the ISO-3166 standard the "official name" for Kosovo is listed as Serbia.

 

In practice history has shown that maintaining an update to date list of countries/regions that aligns with the standard has not always been a high priority. When South Sudan split off from Sudan, South Sudan was split off as a separate country within a week or so (perhaps the fact there there were no caches in South Sudan made that easy). However, in 2010 the country formally known as Netherland Antilles split up into several constituent countries (St. Martin, Sint Maarten, Saba, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba) but if you look at caches on the island of St. Martin you won't find any listed as in Sint Maarten and some are still listed as Netherland Antilles (which brings up the question of whether the name of the country at the time the cache as place should be retained).

 

Thanks for this thorough explanation. I should have realised that there are political incitaments behind the scene making things more complicated. Gc.com has also no interest or resources on their own to monitor this playground. There are other strange examples the other way around too. Isle of man, Guernsey, Jersey and Åland are definite parts of other countries but are recognized as own countries. And as you mention above a more recent example. Yes, it gets tricky when deciding if a cache found before a certain date goes into the old or new country.

OK I will not bother more around this since it arises more questions than it gives answers. Great to get these good answers and really fast too !

 

Just a quick followup. Because this is a game based on hiding/finding things based on geographic coordinates I believe GS is more interested in geographical boundaries rather than political divisions. The primary standards (UN Geopolitical Ontology, ISO-3166) are based on political divisions. In the context of Geocaching, separating "parts" of countries such as the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey and Aland just makes more sense in a game based on location. Perhaps if Geocaching were an olympic sport it might be different.

 

 

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