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There are some users that absolutely want to include Olivenza in Portugal rather than in Spain. They destroy various relations and borders at the same time.

Note that I am neutral about this, I have absolutely no relation with both countries. Here is a mail I sent to one contributor :

[mail] 28 mai 2012 à 01:38 I do know that this is a subject of controversy, but even if the city of Olivenza (current official name in Castillian Spanish, and Estremaduran) or Olivença (name in Portugueses) has been claimed by Portugal since the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, Both countries have agreed and admitted to "freeze the situation" and not revive a war that is completely over since long.

Spain has progressed on this subject by recognizing the Portuguese language in this city, so that both languages are accepted.

But as long as the city has not been returned officially, by a formal request from Portugal (something that has still not occured) Olivenza remains still in Spain and as been in such state since about 150 years. There's NO official Portuguese administration of the city, only Spanish administrations; no elections in Portuguese institutions, only elections in Spanish elections; no tax collected for Portugal, only taxes collected for Spain; no services offered by Portugal to residents, only services offered by Spain. Even the Portuguese government portal on the Internet does not even claim anything, and draws the map of Portugal without this city.

Portugal also does not include "Olivença" in its official statistics institute. Spain does (and both statistics institutes collaborate in many areas). Portugal does not include "Olivença" in its official geographic institute, Spain does (both geographical institures also collaborate peacefully).

We are not claiming any political things in OSM. We are just mapping the world the way it is currently administered. We could add data about historical borders (with dates information), but for now the community has still not decided how to do this. So only the current state of the world is being mapped.

OSM does NOT claim or prove anything about political issues. In fact, even the residents in Olivenza do not claim to return to Portugal. Both countries are now in peace, and if things must be resolved peacefully, there will be an autodetermination vote by local citizens, and formal agreements made by both countries.

So until this really comes, don't map something that will only occur in some unknown future, or will never happen.

Don't invent boundaries only because of troubled histories. Otherwise it would be impossible to create a map of ANY country in the world.

If you continue destroying the map with your modifications (Yes they are destructive because your modifications are also geometrically incorrect and you forget a lot of things, so that objects are no longer correctly rendered even if they are outside of the controversal "claims"), I will signal you. your modifications are abusive and clearly against the common policies in OSM : we map the world as it is, even if peoples are not satisfied with it.

Otherwise we would also include Gibraltar in Spain, Madere in Morocco, the western Sahara as an separate country independant from Morocco.

Please consider that OSM is not the place of starting wars that are NOT observed in the real field. We need to have closed boundaries about administrative areas, not political areas and claims, because this is the way we want a map that match what we'll find in the real world today, not in a world that we can't find. It's not up to you alone to decide, but to the voting citizens in this city and to the two governments, possibly with the help of an independant international juridication. The OSM community is not a court to decide these issues. We just map the current reality. [/mail]

I'd like to get some hints about how to manage the situation and to avoid being myself blocked if I restore what has been destroyed (repeatedly) by that user. And what is the opinion of the OSM community about the state of the map. Because such situations may occur between lots of countries in the world, even if the situation is no longer a subject of war between those countries that have chose to either "freeze" their claims (the statu quo is acceptable as long as there are warranties of peaceful coexistence of citizens, some freedom for moves, cooperation between countries, and an acceptation of mutual cultures). For the rest, we are in Europe and all the principles is that it's not by a war that such things can be solved, but by true democratic processes.

OSM is not a true democracy and has absolutely no power or right to change the map of the world and decide. My opinions is we are just mapping the world the way it is, we have to ignore the remains of past wars. And we must admit when countries have agreed to solve their mutual boundary issues by other ways, with formal procedures and a recognized procedure of referenda.

Do you sustain my position ? Can we decide on a policy to allow avoiding these edit wars caused by claims that are not even observable in the real world where people travel, live and work ?

Final question : how can we map the various international claims separately from the current administrative borders, for those people that want to display alternate maps showing those claims ?

asked 28 May '12, 02:51

Verdy_p's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

closed 28 May '12, 09:52

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦

As a proof of what I said, look at the OFFICIAL site of the Portuguese Geographic Institute, with its OpenLayers interactive map:

Look at the similar map displeyed by the Spanish Geographic institute.

Olivenza is clearly shown in Spain, not in Portugal. In fact the institute cannot decide itself what to include in the Portuguese territory : it obeys to the Portuguese national laws.

I see absolutely no reason why OSM would show something differently from these official institutes. Historical political issues are not to be solved by OSM, even with its community at large.

OSM is not the right place to chenge things: those that are not satisfied can support their political point of views by electing the deputies of their choice in their national Parliament, so that they push the government to negociate and find a solution. The solution is not necessarily a change of territory, it could be a form of economical compensation, and the organisation of more cultural exchanges, and more efforts to support the Portuguese language in education and in the civil life or in local courts for citizens.

For this reason, I will revert those changes as they were abusive, not made according to OSM policies, and not respecting the local people living in this city that have the right to decide themselves with their local democratic institutions (their vote only is meaningful, the OSM community has absolutely no right to decide itself about these political issues, we have to be pragmatic about what is the effective current reality).

(28 May '12, 03:38) Verdy_p

Final note about my final question, about international claims on disputed territories : I propose to define a new type of relation for boundaries, which will NOT be "boundary=administrative", but :

boundary=political, with a new subtype set as: political_division=territory_claim

This type of relation could become a member of country relations, but with a specific role (not the role "subarea", but the new role "claimed").

Another type of boundaries could be made for historical boundaries:


with new qualifying tags speciying a range of dates between which those boundaries were effective, plus tags specifying symbolically which kind of borders they were:

start_date=yyyy-mm-dd (date in ISO 8601 format, possibly abbreviated as yyyy or yyyy-mm)

end_date=yyyy-mm-dd (date in ISO 8601 format, same remark)

historical_type=kingdom, principality, duchy, province, county, mandate, colony, accupation...

The start_date and end_date attributes could be used as well for claims over disputed territories.

(28 May '12, 04:22) Verdy_p

Another official resource which is immediately visible to show the administrative divisions of Portugal:

(28 May '12, 04:46) Verdy_p

The question has been closed for the following reason "Not a question." by Frederik Ramm 28 May '12, 09:52

This message is too long and unsuitable for the help system (which is not a general discussion forum). Please write an email to Data Working Group at, with a concise description of the problem (listing the parties participating in the edit war) and we'll deal with that. Do not participate in the edit war yourself.

In case of disputes, OSM tries to apply the "on the ground rule", i.e. if the city looks and acts like a Spanish city then it is a Spanish city for OSM.

permanent link

answered 28 May '12, 09:50

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

I've read that the DWG does not handle such cases, but only copyright issues... This is a real question about the attitude to adopt, to which you did not reply. And it was a more general question about how to insert data related to claimed territories (that concern lots of places in the world). I gave facts to prove the case from the Portuguese governement thatdo not actually claim the territory now. The city has been Spanish since almost two centuries.

(28 May '12, 12:16) Verdy_p

This is not true, DWG deal with disputes as well. Your question was an endless discussion of a special case, explaining what exactly your personal involvement was and what your plans were. A general question, one paragraph long, of "There's a city factually controlled by state A through a mutual agreement but to which state B has historical claims; (a) how are such issues handled generally and (b) how do we deal with edit wars in that situation" would have been suitable for this forum but not a 200-line special case disussion.

(28 May '12, 12:47) Frederik Ramm ♦

You're wrong, even if this was long to explain the issue, this is a general question not related to a specific case. And I propose a solution for territorial claims which are not efectively administered by some country.

And yes this is much more general as there are lots of similar cases in the world with disputed areas (most often now in maritime areas, but also in the Antarctic). So it's definitely NOT a "particular case". Territorial claims are frequent subjects of edit disputes, for which the DWG should support a stable policy using a solution like what I propose, to end the edit wars.

(26 Nov '12, 21:46) Verdy_p

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question asked: 28 May '12, 02:51

question was seen: 4,317 times

last updated: 26 Nov '12, 21:46

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum