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Why Wikipedia’s Map Of India And Pakistan Is So Controversial

When I posted this video where I asked people in Pakistan if they could say one nice thing about India, the responses people gave were overwhelmingly positive. But this map when was shown only for a few seconds, outraged a lot of people, Indians in particular.

Where This Map Is From

The map below is from the Wikipedia page titled “Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts“. You can see a clean cut border running down between Pakistan in green and India in orange. But this is a de-facto map of the border between India and Pakistan. De-facto meaning what exists in actuality, despite official or legal status as is the case in these other de-facto places. When you look at a Google Map of the region, you see a lot of dotted lines. In other words, things are not so clear cut on the ground as the solid line on Wikipedia would suggest.

india pakistan kashmir

If you’re already thinking whoa, these de facto geopolitical situations are touchy topics, well then, just wait until we get to the Kashmir region in the northern parts of the India Subcontinent.

jammu kashmir borders

Finding Kashmir

Kashmir is a region of 180,000 kilometers at the very north of the Indian subcontinent. It’s mostly mountains with the Himalaya and Karakorum ranges cutting through the region along with three rivers, the Chenab, Indus, and Jehlum. Kashmir is bordered by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan.

Now, in practice when you hear people say “Kashmir” that refers to the Kashmir valley but also the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, which are administered by India – and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, administered by Pakistan, and Aksai Chin and the Tran-Karakoram Tract, administered by China. Of this total land area, India controls about 55% (covering 70% of the total population), Pakistan 35% of the land area, and China about 20%.

1947 Split

1947 was a very important year historically for this part of the world. Up until this point for the previous 300-plus years the British colonized and ruled large parts of the India subcontinent. When Britain decided to hastily leave the Indian subcontinent, they broke it into two independent dominions – Muslim majority Pakistan and India. The guy Britain selected to draw up these borders was Cyril Radcliffe. He was not a political or regional expert, but rather a lawyer. He had also never been to the Indian subcontinent.

india pakistan border visit

Britain gave Radcliffe 5 weeks to draw up a border between India and Pakistan – again, a part of the world he had never been to and clearly did not understand.

Radcliffe cut through the Punjab and Bengal states and the effect of his drawing of lines on a map was a refugee crisis of somewhere between 10-20 million people. The violence that ensued as Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs migrated en masse to get to the “right” side of the border lead to an estimated 200,000 to 2 million deaths.

Drawing Controversy

Once the borders were drawn up, an independent Pakistan and independent India both claimed the state of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to 3 wars, the first being the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Since those wars there have been countless skirmishes and to this day, we have dotted lines on a map.

Except this map on Wikipedia, which is what lead to the controversy in my original video.

See, if you look at detailed maps of Kashmir, you see the dotted lines and that’s because India, Pakistan, and China all lay claims to the region, either partially or in it’s entirety. In practice though after all of the wars and over military build ups, parts of Kashmir are under Indian, Pakistani, and Chinese control.

The line of this map is controversial because the region is disputed. In some people’s eyes on both sides, all of Kashmir belongs to their country. Essentially, to a lot of Indians and a lot of Pakistanis, Kashmir historically and culturally belongs to their nation. In practice though Kashmir is a region divided by three nations, millions of people, and a lot of bad blood over nearly a century.

Everything You Need To Know About Traveling To Baghdad

baghdad iraq

Although it might not seem like it, Baghdad, Iraq is a blossoming tourist destination welcoming casual groups interested in history, art, and a city that’s been off limits until recently. Adventurers are also making their way to this exciting new destination in the Middle East but you don’t have to be one to visit Baghdad, a remarkably modern and welcoming city.

Logistics And Accommodation

Flying into Baghdad is straightforward and there are direct flights from several destinations, including Istanbul. Iraq recently implemented an online e-visa program for a number of countries, removing some of the logistical barriers that once existed. Hotels are plentiful though they tend to range from dirt cheap or semi-luxurious, without many options – or prices – in between.

Getting to Baghdad is mostly normal. Flights land as they would anywhere else but upon arrival you’ll want to have your hotel pickup, Baghdad tour company, or other transportation arranged in advance. Unauthorized cars are not allowed up to the terminals at Baghdad International Airport for security reasons (more on that in a bit) so you won’t be able to just grab a cab once you step outside.

Security

Baghdad is a city that has been experiencing recent periods of normality in between waves of local instability, including recent clashes and curfews. It’s best to have local contacts (e.g. guides) who can advise you of the situation on the ground during such waves. Otherwise, as locals will tell you, traveling to Baghdad isn’t dangerous but it is risk(ier) than many other places. Occasionally there are random attacks, mainly on the outskirts of town and they rarely target foreigners. Everyone has a different risk tolerance but when you’re in Baghdad, a bustling, vibrant city of over 7 million, it doesn’t feel much unlike most other developed capital cities.

Baghdadis are by and large friendly, welcoming, and aside from the ruthless traffic, getting around town by car or on foot isn’t extraordinary.

Why You Should Visit

Baghdad is a modern city with its Starbucks, hip restaurants, and a young and open-minded population who will be deciding what they want their country to be. Being one of the oldest cities in the world, there’s history (Babylon anyone?), cultural events in public squares, and some of the best cuisine you’ll find not just in Iraq, but anywhere.

Perhaps the untold story of Baghdad is that its not only a crossroads of time and peoples, but with that comes the unique mix of foods you can find here. Dishes with a range of fresh ingredients you might not have expected from Iraq but remember, you’re in the heart of the Fertile Crescent. There’s masgouf, traditional carp that’s farmed in the nearby marshes or absolutely one of the best falafels in the world (and a nice vegetarian option).

You’ll be welcomed in Baghdad as a guest – the locals will make sure of that – and you’ll be getting a peak into the fragile state of tourism here. It may be the beginning or a temporary end. Only time will tell so if you’ve been considering a trip to Iraq’s capital, now may be the time.

Interview With Geek Nation Tours Founder Teras Cassidy

geek nation tours

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2022.

For many, it’s New Zealand but for others it’s Mordor. The Shire. Or simply, the place where Lord of the Rings was filmed. In 2009 Teras Cassidy founded Geek Nation Tours to show people of all fandoms places like Japan, the UK, and California from a unique angle. Anime, war gaming, and Wasteland Weekend, Teras joined a special episode of the foXnoMad Podcast to talk about how he came up with Geek Nation Tours and some of the more interesting places they’ve visited.

You can listen to the full episode about and subscribe to the foXnoMad Podcast so you don’t miss the Season 4 premier in the fall!

The Best Place To Eat In Fairbanks, Alaska

There aren’t a lot of places to eat in Fairbanks, Alaska which has a population of 32,000. Not to say Fairbanks doesn’t have some good dining options (it’s no Anchorage) but if one place defines the ambiance of the city, it’s The Chowder House. Alone in a quiet parking lot in the center of town, The Chowder House serves up hearty soups, sandwiches, and potstickers (basically fried dumplings).

Chowders are served daily from chicken and wild rice or creme of broccoli to steak chili. Build your own or enjoy a baked Alaskan salmon sandwich. Hearty, welcoming, and much more interesting packages of tasty calories than its name would suggest, if you need more reason to visit, watch my visit to The Chowder House here.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy Your Own Private Island?

The thought of buying a tropical island is one many of us have dreamed of. Now imagine you asked a bunch of those people to chip in some money and actually buy an island. Well, that’s essentially what Marshall Mayer did with his Let’s Buy An Island project, resulting in the world’s first crowdfunded island.

The goal began to buy an island- any island – and potentially as more people invested, they could afford something nicer than a tiny river island in northern Canada. Let’s Buy An Island reached well beyond its initial goal in 2018 and ended up purchasing Coffee Caye off the coast of Belize. Now, it’s poised to become a micronation, offering citizenship to what’s being called Islandia.

belize island

Marshall was a guest on the foXnoMad Podcast where we talked about how Let’s Buy An Island came to be and what forming a micronation is like. It’s a fun discussion on the logistics of turning a dream into a tangible… in this case, island. You can listen to the episode here or watch it in full in the video above.

I also happened to be headed to Caye Caulker Belize two weeks after our conversation and guess who made it to Islandia? The plans for the island, mainly a vacation rental property that will make your friends jealous, hasn’t been built yet but it was an adventure just getting there. You can watch the entire trip in the video here.

How To Get To Caye Caulker From Belize City

Caye Caulker is an idyllic island paradise off the coast of Belize City, Belize. It’s only 35 kilometers (~21 miles) away but it can be confusing to find out the best ways to get to Caye Caulker from Belize City. Fortunately, there are multiple options on getting there for various budgets and personal preference.

Water Taxi

There are two water taxi options: Ocean Ferry and San Pedro Belize Express taking off from two small ports in town. To get to either port you can either grab a taxi from the airport (it should cost roughly $25-30USD) but be aware that official taxis have green license plates. Otherwise they look a lot like every other car. Secondly, you can arrange a shuttle in a private car using Viator, which ends up being cheaper (~$16) and more convenient. You just need to book it in advance.

caye caulker beach

  • Ocean Ferry: Takes off every 90 minutes or so throughout the day but as it is with either ferry, if you’re arriving to Belize City after around 5pm, you’ll have to book a hotel in the city and wait for the morning ferries. Ocean Ferry runs large semi-covered speedboats. They’re not the most comfortable but the least expensive of the two ferries and if you like the feeling of wind in your hair, it’s a good choice.
  • San Pedro Belize Express: These are larger, covered boats that run every hour. Belize Express also has multiple boats so it’s less likely they’ll be too full for passengers as they can run a second one if needed.

Both ferries are roughly the same price (about $20 one-way or a discounted $37 for round trip) and take about 45 minutes. You’ll be able to keep your hand luggage and backpacks but larger suitcases are checked-in at the port and stowed away separately.

By Air

Roughly $200 for a one way to Caye Caulker from Belize City, you may prefer taking a flight if your arrival time into Belize doesn’t match with the ferry schedules. Flying is faster and the only additional step is to go from the international to the domestic terminal. As is usually the case, going by air is more expensive than by boat.

Flip It And Reverse It

Going back to Belize City from Caye Caulker, it’s basically the same process in reverse. The ferry docks in Caulker are not far from anything (nothing – not even the airport is far away on this 8km long island) and you can arrange the same car ride back to the airport from the port in Belize City. (It’s easier than getting a taxi there.) Tanned and relaxed one hopes, the departure is the hardest part so some just buy their own islands nearby.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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