Open Historical Map/Disputed territories

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This is a subpage to plan how disputed and contested territories should be handled in OHM's extended tagging schemes and rendering.

Open Historical Map has a scope that is being determined as the project progresses, but generally is similar to OSM's but extended into the past. As such, it is both a physical and political map. The nature of the latter concern has the necessity of representing political entities and their holdings, and the relation between them -- both history and the present day have a menagerie of states, nations, (con)federations, annexations, vassals, terrae nūllārum, con-dominiums...and territories claimed exclusively by more than one group of people, under various justifications and systems of law or ethic.

OSM has a desire for tact, neutrality, and economy of opinion when it comes to present-day cases. To this end OSMF has published a statement at osmf:file:DisputedTerritoriesInformation.pdf, and a couple of pages on this wiki discuss approaches that can be taken (disputes, disputed territories) and some proposals have been made although neither are currently active (proposed_features/DisputedTerritories,proposed features/Mapping disputed boundaries). OHM can learn from these documents and the experiences that led to them, but we have a different remit, that of the historian and the historical perspective. Some historical disputes have been long forgotten by most of the people living there today, whereas others remain quite raw even decades or centuries after their origins. Either way while it is important to be sensitive (not sympathetic per se) to the perspectives of all involved, even those whose identity has been lost to time, our main obligation in making a historical map is to those who seek to understand the situation as a whole, to present the truth as can be found in linked sources, and to preserve that information which might otherwise be obscured by a lack of public awareness. (pages to look at to understand OHM's approach to source-based history include Open Historical Map/OHM_Basics#Source and perhaps Open Historical Map/Hypothetical_vs_Verifiable)

With that in mind, following is a list of sources for researching disputes, then extant-in-the-database (but available for additional work) or planned regions to model a dispute or contestation, and after that ways they might be modelled and/or rendered.


All current disputes had an origin in the past, so wikipedia:en:list_of_territorial_disputes may be useful. Likewise, many but not all of wikipedia:en:timeline_of_geopolitical_changes_(1900−present) (and pre-1900 article also) had an associated disputed area.


(see also the main subpage Open Historical Map/Projects for all, not just those relating to this topic) Right now there is a focus on the 'manifest destiny' period of the United States as many of the mappers currently adding to OHM have a primary historical interest in the US, but any period of time anywhere in the world is fair game.

Maine (1820-1842)‬

Disputants: US && Canada

Region: slice of disputed territory in the northern part of

Discussion: on channel #openhistoricalmap

Louisiana Disputed Territory (1803-06)

Disputants: New Spain? and Orleans Territory of France

Region: aka Sabine Territory

Discussion: on channel #openhistoricalmap

fifty-four forty or fight?

Republic of Texas (1836-45)

Disputants: Republic of Texas, Mexico



Related maps / graphics: Wikimedia svg | Mr Gray History Map | Mexican War Maps | Thomas Legion dot net

Notes: need to map the boundaries of the disputed area. Would love to find an actual source map showing the jagged boundaries of the 1845 Annexation. Everything I can find is fairly modern.


Disputants: Republic of Texas, New Mexico territory (US), Mexico

Region: area between the Red River and the Rio Grande / Rio Bravo del Norte


Quoth Jeff Meyer:

Here’s what I’m thinking right now… relations that overlap, each owned by a respective claimant. For example, New Spain (I think…) could have a claim to the Sabine Territory (aka Louisiana Disputed Territory) and include that in its boundary. Same for the Orleans Territory. A 3rd relation would be the disputed / overlapping area. Some sort of light fill transparent tint might be interesting…

One of the OSM proposals showed a striped style for the disputed zone, but that would seem to work best when the disputants' main territories (if separate from the contested region) are coloured separately as in a dedicated political map; right now OHM's style is hybrid physical-political like OSM's and so the four-colouring approach is eschewed so landuse/landcover are clearer.