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Mapping a Changing World

Published 21st May 2015 by The Times Atlas

In the years since the publication of the last edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World, the world has witnessed the fall of regimes and elections in the Arab world, ongoing civil war in Syria and the Russian annexation of Crimea.

From disputed borders to changes in the environment, the Geo Newsroom at Collins Bartholomew is constantly monitoring major global issues and gathering information to ensure the latest 14th edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World provides a clear picture of geopolitical and geographical change in an ever-changing world.


The Collins Bartholomew team maintain regular contact with, and receive information and advice from, experts around the world to make informed decisions on potentially contentious issues such as international boundary changes, new countries and place names.

A major change to the 14th edition is the representation of Crimea as a disputed territory following the Russian annexation and subsequent referendum in March 2014, both of which were rejected by the United Nations General Assembly. The atlas indicates that Crimea is administered by Russia, but in the political map it is coloured as part of the Ukraine as it is still seen as such under international law.

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Closer to home, the atlas team kept a close eye on events in Scotland last year. As the 14th edition went to press (June 2014), the Scottish referendum had not yet taken place. If Scotland had have voted in favour of independence then it would have been likely to become an independent country in 2016, a change that would have had to be reflected in the next edition of the atlas.


The displacement of hundreds of thousands of people affected by civil war presents another challenge for the atlas team. The movement of populations on such a vast scale is difficult to map and can often be transient, so refugee camps are identified by the location of the towns around which they have developed and after which they have been named, or the nearest UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) headquarters.

Newly added to the 14th edition is Dadaab, Kenya. Home to a population of approximately 500,000 people, Dadaab is the site of the world’s largest refugee camp. Most of the refugees have come as a consequence of the civil war in southern Somalia, including both Somalis and members of Somalia’s various ethnic minority groups.

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The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World also reflects changes to the natural environment. Collins Bartholomew cartographers refer to the latest official sources and consult relevant organisations to present the most up to date information on changes to landscapes, land cover and biodiversity.

One of the most interesting changes in the 14th edition is the new, lower height of Aoraki/Mt Cook in New Zealand. The summit height is now 3724m (12,218 ft), 30m lower than in the previous edition of the atlas. A recent GPS survey attributed the change to erosion of the ice cap on the summit. It still remains New Zealand’s highest peak, ahead of Mount Tasman. It is the second time in living memory that Aoraki/Mt Cook’s height has changed - an avalanche in 1991 lowered its summit by 10 metres.

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Although it is only published every three years, creating The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World is an ongoing process undertaken by a skilled team of cartographers and editors who are constantly monitoring world events. Order the 14th edition here.

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