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May 8, 2004
And You Thought Americans Were Ignorant About Geography

The Guardian reports today that the Irish postal service, An Post, issued a stamp which confuses Cyprus with Crete and failed to include its own border with Northern Ireland, which belongs to the UK:

The 65 cent stamp - 330,000 of which were issued on May 1 to commemorate the EU's expansion and for use to mail letters to all 25 member states - places Cyprus off the south-east coast of Greece, much closer to the location of Crete than Cyprus. The horizontal sliver bears scant resemblance to the chubby, rhino-horned shape of Cyprus but comes uncannily close to the long and slim Crete, Greece's largest island. ...

In Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, symbol-sensitive Protestants also found fault with the stamp, which has erased the staunchly defended border between Irish south and British north.

"The stamp manages to get every single European border right on the continent, but ignores our own," said Steven King, an adviser to the Ulster Unionist Party in Belfast.

King mailed a copy of the Good Friday Agreement to officials at An Post in which the Republic of Ireland renounced its claim to Northern Ireland in favor of self-determination, mostly as a joke. King does not demand a redesign of the stamp. However, the stamp may wind up being such an embarrassment that it may have to shelve the stamp, intended to commemorate EU enlargement. While the spokesperson from An Post defended the design, saying that scale had to be disregarded to fit Cyprus on any normal size commemorative stamp, she doesn't explain why the shape of the island had to be transformed as well.

Here's a map of Greece, with Crete at the bottom, and one of Cyprus. Compare those with the stamp shown in the Guardian article. I think An Post has some explaining to do.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 8, 2004 10:23 AM

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