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I like to make up my own interesting international routes on my longer trips rather than always following conventional routes.

But often it's tricky to plan a route in lesser-known parts of the world due to the changing relationships between neighbouring countries whose borders may vacillate between open and closed with the passing years and decades.

This might only be a concern when thinking about a trip across a large swathe of the world, such as Western Europe to East Asia overland.

Does anybody know of an online zoomable map, perhaps based on Google Maps or OpenStreetMap or such, that clearly features indication of the status of each border. Colour-coding would be the obvious way with green meaning open, red meaning closed, and some colour meaning "open only to residents of these two countries", which seems pretty common.

Obviously some borders are open or closed to various nationalities etc, but this is not going to be easy to include in such a map so it's not what I'm looking for.

As a bonus, a map showing each official crossing point just as clearly would be extremely useful.

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That's another great business idea :) The problem is just that it could be very difficult to get reliable data. –  RoflcoptrException Jan 15 '13 at 8:25
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In parts of the world, the border crossings may vary by time of day or day of week. If you can't rely on the Songwe Bridge between Malawi and Tanzania being open, two mostly friendly countries with no serious domestic insurgencies, I don't know how one would keep a map updated for the situation at Mobaye or Niangoloko. You need to do as the locals, and call ahead to get the news. –  choster Jan 15 '13 at 9:42
    
@RoflcoptrException: Yes I think crowdsourced like a wiki would be the obvious way, which wouldn't make it good as a business idea because the data should be owned by the contributors. If I had a bunch of money and a well-connected server I would just start coding (-: –  hippietrail Jan 15 '13 at 11:34
    
@choster: There's no reason not to indicate situations like that too. Borders should be clickable for extra information or links to various sources. –  hippietrail Jan 15 '13 at 11:36
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1 Answer

So I was wondering what you exactly meant by planning a route. Like do you take a map and say I'm gonna go from this country to the next, or do you say I'm gonna take this exact road, and you expect that if you cross the border 10 km further it'd be easier?

The problem for such a tool mostly comes from data aggregation, there is little data and it would expire very fast anyway.

But I found a resource you might like, even though it doesn't quite match your idea. So the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs published an app (for Android) to give advice for travellers (Conseils aux Voyageurs). It particularly includes information about security, with a color-coded map for most countries showing how dangerous an area is. Most information (except the map) is available offline. The given information is also available on their website.

The problem, you would say, is it's in French. I didn't find an equivalent in English though. To get to this map, you should navigate to "Pays" (countries), then pick the one you're interested in, then you select the "Sécurité" tab. You'll find the map, with in red the places that are strongly recommended to avoid, in orange the places that are to be avoided unless really needed, and in yellow, no uncommon risk for the country.

It is quite unprecise if you are expecting maps of pretty specific areas, but the good thing is it's quality content, and you can access it on a mobile device.

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What a shame, if you'd answered just a day earlier you could have won a bounty. ;) –  Ankur Banerjee Feb 2 '13 at 19:14
    
Actually I'm not very interested in the safety of countries or regions, that information is pretty easy to find. Does this app have information on which borders are open and closed? You don't seem to mention this feature in your answer. –  hippietrail Feb 3 '13 at 6:17
    
yes that's true, I thought about the borders when I saw Ivory Coast diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/conseils-par-pays/…, the map shows the Liberia border is not that safe. But I don't understand your use case, how do you plan your trips? What's the granularity of your routes? You want to know the relationships between 2 neighbouring countries or you want to know which border station to go to? –  Vince Feb 3 '13 at 8:56
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Here's an example: I'm trying what adventure to have on my next trip in maybe ten or twelve months from now. I'd like to go to Mongolia and I'd like to go to the Hunza Valley in Pakistan. And I'd like to start by flying from Australia to Korea. Now I want to travel everything except ocean crossing overland (well no flying). So when looking at all the unusual ways to get between those countries there's surely some borders closed. So I want to rule out routes that are impossible due to closed borders. On my previous trips I found that the Turkey/Armenia and Armenia/Azerbaijan borders are shut... –  hippietrail Feb 3 '13 at 11:15
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@hippietrail The app/website do have a “transports” section for each country that typically mentions these things, but only as text (and with the rules that apply to French citizens), e.g. for Armenia: “Les postes frontières ouverts sont ceux avec la Georgie et l’Iran” (i.e. the borders with Turkey or Azerbaijan are closed). Also, under “Sécurité”, “Les frontières avec la Turquie et l’Azerbaïdjan sont fermées du fait du conflit du Haut-Karabagh, malgré le cessez-le-feu signé en 1994.” –  Annoyed Nov 29 '13 at 11:40
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