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National Geographic Maps
October 2011
Without question, National Geographic is the place to be if you love the science and art of mapmaking. National Geographic Maps' production schedules are full of stimulating and challenging projects, and every so often one of our cartographers gets an assignment that is so near to their heart that it becomes an overriding passion. Juan José Valdés, The Geographer and Director of Editorial and Research at National Geographic Maps, was given such a project in January of this year: a map of Cuba, National Geographic's first large-format map of the island since October 1906.

In August 1961, at age seven, Juan arrived unaccompanied to the U.S. from Cuba. He was one of thousands of Cuban youths who arrived alone in the U.S. from December 1960 through October 1962. Juan spent the next year living with friends until his parents were able to join him in the States. He eventually pursued his passion for cartography, and was hired by the National Geographic Society in 1976, where he has worked ever since.

The Cuba map and Juan's story were recently featured in the Washington Post. You can also hear Juan discuss the map and modern cartography in a recent edition of NPR "Talk of the Nation".

"In my career as a cartographer at National Geographic I've worked, in one manner or another, on most if not all of the atlases, globes, reference maps, and hundreds of other cartographic products we've produced," Juan says. "Although the advent of computer-assisted cartography has forever changed the way mapmakers produce maps, here the human element is still essential. Without having a good idea as to the 'lay of the land,' it is difficult for any cartographer to produce a map that possesses a soul: a map that not only shows but guides the reader to all of those places unique to every piece of geography." CLICK HERE to view the Cuba wall map and more maps that would make a perfect addition to your home, office, or classroom.
National Geographic's Trails Illustrated maps are expertly researched and crafted in conjunction with local land-management agencies. Evergreen, Colo.-based Manager of Cartographic Production David Lambert just returned from proofing meetings in the San Francisco Bay area for our new Mount Tamalpais Trails Illustrated map. "The agencies involved are really excited about this new map," David says. "We're incorporating the feedback we received, making final improvements, and will be sending the map to Fort Collins for printing in the coming days."

Meanwhile, at our Washington D.C. headquarters, Debbie Gibbons, Director of Cartographic Production, is putting the finishing touches on our new DestinationMap of the Caribbean—the second map in this newly redesigned line of travel maps. Debbie notes, "We've had to take the layout of this map into careful consideration so that travelers to the region—including those aboard cruise ships—will be able to find all of their ports of call. The map will be printed on the same waterproof, tear-resistant paper as our popular Trails Illustrated maps."
Got a question for the cartographers? Send it to us!
If your question is used in a future newsletter, we'll send you a free standard-size wall map of your choice.
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