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Show me the way to go home

Being British one becomes used to buying maps that are an accurate graphical representation of the terrain.

In Spain the maps are generally rubbish. It is very common for villages not to be marked for road junctions to be out of date etc. To be honest it seems to be getting a bit better (all that satellite mapping I suppose) but when the navigator says "This map is wrong" as you find yourself hopelessly lost it may actually be true. That won't stop the violent recriminations of course.

The odd thing is that private maps (Michelin, Repsol, Campsa etc.) tend to be more up to date than the ones from the official National Geographic Institute (IGN).

This is what Stamford's map shop has to say about the IGN 1:200000 series

"The series is being updated and titles often disappear for two or more years before a new edition is published. More importantly, with the current rapid expansion of the road infrastructure in Spain, particularly of the motorway network, even the latest editions do not always provide up-to-date information."

It's odd too that the IGN produces an annual road atlas that is as good as any. If they can keep their small scale maps up to date why don't they do the same with their larger scale stuff?

Anyway I still wanted to buy the 1:200000 maps but they aren't easy to get hold of through bookshops and neither of the two big online retailers here carries them. The IGN though has a website with an online bookshop. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to sell maps. So I used the contact link on the website to ask how to buy the maps. A reply came the next day (a remarkable occurrence for an email here) saying I needed to contact a different department. In the meantime I'd found that the IGN has "map showrooms" in most provincial capitals (to promote their products) and as Murcia City is only 50km away I thought that would be a good way to buy what I thought I wanted and see what else they publish. We were a bit late away though and as the showrooms only open in the mornings we missed them.

I ordered the maps from Stamford's in London. So much easier and quicker. Odd though.


  1. Funny how you suddenly come to realise that things you took for granted are actually very valuable. Who ever gives a second thought to the existence of the Ordnance Survey.
    As a student, I did a study of different maps in different countries - I can advise you never to rely on maps in Jamaica.


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