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Internet access to old colonial maps proves invaluable

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - Maps from Indonesia’s colonial times as the Dutch East Indies, last year helped relief organizations find their way to tsunami-stricken areas. The Indies maps, together with old maps charting other former Dutch colonies now only are accessible on the website of the Royal Institute for the Tropics (KIT) in Amsterdam. There are some 11,500 very detailed maps made between 1840 and 1950, which not only help people find geographical evidence of their roots, but also have assisted researchers find archeological treasures. Over the years, these deteriorating maps have been used to settle border disputes as well, but no longer can be consulted physically, over preservation concerns.