Mapping the world at war

  • Written by  Freddie Stewart
  • Published in Mapping
Mapping the world at war
03 May
2017
An interactive map highlights the shocking number of ongoing conflicts around the world

While a handful of conflicts dominate international newswires, a host of bloody, unresolved wars continue to be played out across the globe to devastating human cost, underreported and, in certain instances, largely unnoticed by the wider world. These might not be seismic geopolitical events of the magnitude of the ongoing conflict in Syria, nor generally have Anglo-American interventions in the conflict zone to pique the interest of the international media. But the devastation they have wrought has been just as shocking.

A new interactive map, compiled by humanitarian news agency IRIN, charts the spread of conflicts across the globe. Each conflict is represented on the map by a red dot, the size of which is determined by the length of the ongoing war. Clicking on a red dot opens a fact box that summarises the nature of the conflict and the interests involved, detailing too the length and current status of each particular war. The number of fatalities for which the conflict is thought to have been responsible is also shown.

The sheer geographical scope of global conflict is immediately evident. Nearly 40 ongoing conflicts are currently represented, traversing the entire breadth of a globe pock-marked with red circles. Some, such as the war in Syria, are grimly familiar; others have scarcely entered public consciousness outside their own sphere of direct influence.

Some, such as that between North and South Korea, have ravaged their afflicted region for more than half a century; others, such as the ongoing struggle between Mexican drug cartels and government forces, are comparatively young, striking instead because of the number of lives they have cost across a relatively short period.

Tensions remain high between North and South Korea even with an armistice having been in place since 1953 (Image: Astrelok)Tensions remain high between North and South Korea even with an armistice having been in place since 1953 (Image: Astrelok)

The map is intended to highlight oft-overlooked conflicts, and accompanies a series of features on these forgotten wars. The series seeks to examine ‘the root causes, human cost and potential for peace of conflicts in Myanmar, Casamance in Senegal, South Kordofan in Sudan, southern Thailand, and Mindanao in the Philippines.’ These six conflicts alone have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands – the overwhelming majority civilians – and have been responsible for the displacement of millions more.

More than 350,000 people have been displaced on the Philippine island of Mindanao by a conflict that has flared up spasmodically since, according to IRIN’s map, 1969. As ever, the situation is fraught with historical complexity. Since the Philippines’ independence at the end of the Second World War, Christian settlers have progressively eroded the perceived autonomy of the island’s indigenous Muslim population, sparking a succession of bloody struggles between separatists and government forces. At the same time, Maoist insurgents representing the the New People’s Army (NPA) have been seeking to overthrow the government and form a communist state. Following a series of failed peace talks, the conflict has shown few signs of abating. More recently, though, the tale has transmuted to become a familiar one in an unfamiliar context. The failure of these peace processes has led to the adoption of extremist ideologies, with more militant groups emerging and aligning themselves with the so-called Islamic State.

The Mexican Drug War has been officially running since 2006 and is said to be responsible for over 90,000 deaths (Image: Photoshooter2015)The Mexican Drug War has been officially running since 2006 and is said to be responsible for over 90,000 deaths (Image: Photoshooter2015)

The story in Mindanao testifies to the way in which our understandings of conflict and of humanitarian crises more generally are conditioned by an often narrow viewpoint. This is something IRIN is seeking to redress through its coverage of otherwise underreported or misunderstood humanitarian stories. Originally called the Integrated Regional Information Networks, IRIN was until January 2015 a project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It now exists as an independent, non-profit media venture, fulfilling its avowed aim of addressing the ‘major disconnect between the voices of those most affected by crises and decision-makers sitting in New York and Geneva.’

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Leave a comment

ONLY registered members can leave comments and each comment is held pending authorisation before publishing. Please login or register to voice your opinion.

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Long live the King
    It is barely half a century since the Born Free story caused the world to re-evaluate humanity’s relationship with lions. A few brief decades later,...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital have a green future,...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Cities

The next stage in autonomous vehicles is hoping to transform…

Mapping

Geographical’s resident data cartographer presents a true picture of the…

Water

What impact could an unprecedented incident of ‘river piracy’ have…

Mountains

Norway is to undercut a mountainous peninsula to create the…

Mapping

Benjmain Hennig explores global mortality with maps

Water

Last winter’s cold conditions contributed a further influx of road…

Water

As one of America’s biggest cities, supplying clean drinking water…

Cities

Cape Town’s Foreshore Freeway Bridge has been left unfinished for…

Mapping

An interactive map highlights the shocking number of ongoing conflicts…

Mapping

Repurposed NASA maps show the racial diversity (and segregation) of…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps Europe's public train networks

Mapping

A new map of global landslide susceptibility reveals vast geographical…

Deserts

For decades, scientists have been divided over how these eerily…

Forests

The first count of global tree species reveals how many…

Cities

The new ‘world’s longest flight’ now spans a distance of more…

Mountains

For the Swiss, the iconic yellow postbuses are much more…

Water

After years of inaction, could the clean-up of the Venice lagoon…

Water

Following the recent success of New Zealand’s Whanganui river, India’s…

Forests

The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)…

Mapping

Where are Europe's earthquakes located? Benjamin Hennig maps the answer