Answer From National Geographic Regarding Maps

March 16 I sent an email to National geographic (email: regarding their maps and that they should restore Tibet and authentic Tibetan place names on its maps and atlases. I received this reply on march 24:th.


Dear *****:

Thank you for your email of  March 16 concerning the treatment of Tibetan
place-names on National Geographic maps.

While we fully appreciate your concern and understand the implications of
our Tibetan place-names convention, it is the policy of the Society to have
its maps show de facto situations throughout the world and to reflect the
boundaries and names as closely as possible to those recognized by the
governing bodies of the geographic areas involved.

The use of Tibetan place-names on our maps has evolved over time. Until the
1970s, our maps generally displayed traditional Tibetan place-names. However,
in August 1977, at the Third UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical
Names, delegates voted on, and adopted that Pinyin (a romanized form of the
Chinese written language) be recognized as the official spelling system for
all place-names in China. Since the international adoption of this system,
most if not all place-names within Tibet have changed to the Pinyin system.

Whether the change of traditional Tibetan place-names to Pinyin on our maps,
or those of other cartographic houses, might be unrecognized or considered
illegal by some, the fact remains that this region is presently administered by
China. Thus, National Geographic does not purport to be the arbiter or determiner
of Tibetan place-names, but simply tries to provide the reader of our maps with
sufficient information by which this region’s current geopolitical reality can be presented.

Juan José Valdés
The Geographer
Director of Editorial and Research
National Geographic Maps

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