Snowden Route Maps

Compendium of not-great maps produced by the media showing the alleged route that data leaker Edward Snowden may or may not have taken around the world. Thanks to Spatial Analysis for tipping me off with the Guardian’s effort and seeding the idea for this blog post.


Apparently the route from Hawaii to Hong Kong goes via Brazil and Madagascar. The map’s filename includes “v2-final” indicating this is not a first draft. The labels variously show the city, the state, the country, or sometimes a combination.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 17.21.48

Better, although uses fake (but incorrect) Great Circle curves.

The Guardian:
Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 15.04.27

Google Maps?!

Business Insider:

Google Maps!

Daily Mail:

The long way around to Hong Kong. Includes nice shadow effect showing that the curve is simply due to the height of the plane above the ground – the further you go the higher you fly!

Here’s how to do it – use Great Circle Mapper:

Great Circle Mapper is Copyright © 1996-2013 Karl L. Swartz. All rights reserved.

(N.B. Some long-distance air routes use jetstreams rather than Great Circle approximations, as this is more efficient in terms of fuel/speed, even if the journey is further.)