Before we get down to answering this question, let us look at the assumptions such a question entails. These include –
- There is a single world map followed by all nations, countries, and people.
- There is a single authority that approves or declines changes in maps.
- Changes in maps are dependent upon the approval of a particular person or body.
None of these assumptions are true!
Changes in the world map may occur for a number of reasons. Over time, the world map has evolved extensively due to our understanding of the world. The earliest maps of the world date back to the classical antiquity. This means that some of the earliest maps were based on the premise that the world was flat. It was much later, after the 6th and 5th century BCE, that human beings started to acknowledge the geoid shape of the earth.
As European civilizations developed, world maps started to depict the European nations and their contours quite accurately, but the unexplored parts of the world (terra incognita) were still dependent largely on the imagination of the cartographers. Centuries later came an era of unprecedented exploration. With new discoveries, the accuracy of the world maps improved. No one person or organization had to approve such changes. These changes came as a result of discovery and learning.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the world has been in a state of constant political flux. With the rise and collapse of empires and countries, the colonial expansion by European nations, and the political union/disintegration of countries, has resulted in major changes in the world map. These did not come about as a matter of approval, but as a matter evolution. The collapse of Austria-Hungary following World War I, and the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991, produced great changes to the world map.
Cartography can be very biased. Cartographers often follow the convention of the country that they are based. In cases of disputed territories and political conflicts, the official maps of different countries and political borders are likely to differ. Taiwan, for example, broke away from the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, but China still claims sovereignty over the island nation, and thus a world map in China will show Taiwan as Chinese territory. An Israeli World Map is not likely to note Palestine. And in India, you can be arrested for showing unapproved Indian borders on a map. In many places, cartographers are required to abide by the laws of the country in which they are located.
There are many nuances, and any political map of the World is going to come with some bias. There are some agencies that are recognized by many as authoritative. The United Nations, The Times of London, and the National Geographic Society are some. But even these three don’t agree on a single authoritative World Map.
*Note: Mapsofworld.com follows EditorialCalls.org