National Geographic Society's Cartographic Policy

In keeping with the National Geographic Society’s 121-year chartered purpose as a not-for-profit scientific and educational organization, the Society’s cartographic policy is one of portraying the world from a de facto point of view; that is, to portray to the best of our judgment the current reality. National Geographic strives to be apolitical, to consult multiple authoritative sources, and to make independent decisions based on extensive research.

The Society’s policy for defining boundaries and political divisions as well as the naming of geographic places is decided by the Map Policy Committee. Decisions regarding boundaries and the naming assigned to geographic places, and the like, are checked against a number of external entities. These include: international bodies such as the United Nations, the European Community, as well as the policies of individual governmental entities; the Board on Geographic Names; recognized reference books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, geographical dictionaries, atlases, independent academic texts and other similar sources.

This committee meets frequently to access available information about boundary and naming issues. Based on the best information and research available, the Map Policy Committee seeks to make independent judgments about future changes or clarifications on its maps, as well as to correct any errors. It is the policy of the Society to update its maps with each published version of a particular map or atlas.