No Invasion, But Google Maps Involved In Spanish, Moroccan Island Dispute

Google is correcting how it displays a small island in the Strait of Gibraltar after erring twice and putting Google Maps in the midst of a years-old dispute between Spain and Morocco.


At question is a tiny island that’s only about one-third of a mile in each direction. Spain calls it Perejil and Morocco calls Leila; it sits about 275 yards off the northern coast of Morocco and about eight miles south of mainland Spain. In 2002, Moroccan soldiers set up a camp on the tiny island and a Spanish military operation removed them a week later.

According to the Associated Press, Google learned in July that it mistakenly labeled the island as Moroccan territory. But that was only the first mistake:

Google’s geopolitical team at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, consulted with international bodies including the United Nations, and recently decided to declare the islet a disputed territory that belongs to neither Spain nor Morocco, [a Google Spain spokesperson] said. Engineers have been working to make the correction, she said.

But since Monday, Google Maps has been attributing the islet to Spain, or to neither country, depending on the wording that is typed into the search engine.

A Google spokesperson didn’t have information today about when the fix would be in place, but shared this statement with Search Engine Land:

We understand that La Isla Perejil/Laila is a disputed island. We always keep a close eye on disputed matters and make every effort to update our maps accordingly when things change.

This is the second time in a matter of weeks that Google Maps has been involved in an international territorial dispute. An improperly displayed border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica was recently brought up during a long-running dispute between those two countries.

Fortunately, in this latest situation, no one from Spain or Morocco appears to be using Google Maps to explain or justify an incursion into the disputed territory.

International mapping, as the above proves, can be a touchy subject; Google announced earlier this year that had improved how it displays borders in more than 60 countries and regions.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Outside US


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide