More on Chile Border Problem

Chile border in Google EarthSince the news media seems to think this Google Earth border data error is a big deal, I thought I would try to find out where the border is supposed to be. The point of contention is that a town in Chile called “Villa O’Higgins” is shown in Google Earth to be in Argentina. The border in Google Earth is clearly wrong, and the search results also show “Villa O’Higgins, Chile” to be in Argentina. I looked around for a detailed enough map to show the border in this area. Ultimately, I ended up trying Virtual Earth from Microsoft. The roads and cities information are almost non-existent in this area, but the border detail is pretty good in Virtual Earth (or Live Maps – or whatever they are calling it these days). I then created a Google Earth map showing the current border (in yellow) in Google Earth, and then I estimated the correct border position (in orange) based on the VE map (as well as other maps I found). Here is the same map in Google Maps.
The data source Google is using for the border in Chile is apparently pretty low resolution. I suspect they just need to acquire border data with higher resolution (and better accuracy) and this problem (and probably others for the area) will be greatly reduced. The thing everyone should realize is that Google isn’t intended for survey-level accuracy on things like this. But, I guess with the huge popularity of Google Earth, you have to expect people are going to hold it to a higher standard.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. It is not just Chile, but the US/Canadian border as well.
    Beginning in the middle of Lake of the Wood, Minnesota and all the way to the Pacific, parts of the US are in Canada according to Google Earth.
    In some sections, the border goes from 400 feet off to as much as 2,600 feet off near north central Boutineau County, North Dakota. Near the Border of Liberty and Hill Counties in Montana, the Google border is right on top of the actual border. But this only last for about a mile or two.
    Due to the Google border problems, all of Noyes, Minnesota and Maida, North Dakota, three quarters of the town of Portal, North Dakota and half of Sweetgrass, Montana are in Canada, according to Google Earth.
    I bet the people who live there get a big kick outta this, but I am sure no one is laughing at Google.
    Tybois Uphold
    Editor/News Director
    SVRTV-Winchester, VA

  2. I am running an older version of google earth. I don’t know if they fixed the northern canadian border ir not but all those islands to the north of the canadian mainland all the way to the north pole also belong to Canada This is a HUGE area to miss. Not alot of people life there, but it’s still a huge area and includes the magnetic north pole. (last time I checked)

  3. Add four corners to that list. I recently viewed the region to see if the monument really is at the exact spot of where the four states line up. GE has the borders off by I think .45 of a mile NW, but I’ve confirmed from MSN and TerraServer that the monument is spot on with the borders.

  4. The Chile and Canada boders are not the only border errors in the Google database. The border between the US states of Georgia and Tennessee is shown in Google Earth to be ~ 1300 meters North of the actual location (the border should pass through the center of Copperhill, Tennessee. The error carries across the entire Northern borders of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The error also affects the Southern borders of North Carolina and Tennessee.

  5. The tennessee border is actually wrong, as defined by the act of congress that created tennessee. Its southern border is to be the 35th parallel but the surveying equipment in use at the time caused the borders to be surveyed incorrectly. Technically, half of Chattanooga should be in Georgia. The southern Tennessee border is about a mile to a mile and a half south of where it was intended to be. A neat bit of knowledge.

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