Google Maps is undoubtedly a great cartographic tool, but this excellent tool still has it’s share of quirks and queries. Russia’s Jeannette Island is a prime example as it has been deliberately hidden by Google Maps.
A little background information
Jeanette Island is an island in the East Siberian Sea belonging to Russia. It takes it’s name from the expedition that discovered the island in 1881, which was commissioned by the US Navy Officer and Explorer George Washington De Long. First claimed by the United States, Russia finally took possession of it during the Imperial Russian Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition which took place between 1910 and 1915.
Hidden on Google Maps
Administratively, Jeannette island belongs to Republic of Sakha (Russia) and is part of the De Long archipelago which is composed of five islands (Jeannette, Henriette, Bennett, Vilkitski and Jokhov). It covers an area of about 3.3 km2, and its highest point is measured at 351 meters. This island is obviously not very significant, and yet it turns out it is hidden on Google Maps. (coordinates 76 ° 42 ’56 “N, 158 ° 06′ 33” E).
It seems strange that the island is blanked out from Google Maps if it is nothing special. It makes you wonder why is does not appear online. Is there a secret military base, or something else to hide? According to a more or less accepted belief, Jeannette Island is blurred out over questions regarding it’s membership to Russia and geopolitical issues that have dragged on for a century!
Blurred areas on Google Maps
Google is often asked to blur out satellite images of certain sensitive areas which could reveal a state secret for example or due to remoteness. Here is a short list of areas that are not possible to be seen on Google Maps:
– Zone 51 (Nevada, United States)
– The ancient city of Babylon (Iraq)
– The entire North Korea
– Tantauco National Park (Chile)
– Certain areas of the Faroe Islands (Denmark)
– Parts of Moruroa Atoll (French Polynesia), known to have suffered 138 French nuclear tests in the 1960 s.
This is not a complete list of the places blanked out on Google Maps as there are many more. However in some cases this kind of precaution is not enough. Many places are also hidden in the Google Street function.