Geographer Juan José Valdés’s World (NatGeo)

Juan José Valdés puts our travel destinations on the map, literally.

Juan José Valdés
Juan José Valdés

Is it Phnom Penh or Phnum Pénh? Cape Verde or Cabo Verde?

As the lead geographer for an organization that has the word in its title, Valdés has his finger squarely on the pulse of our constantly changing world, guiding the Society’s map policy committee as it navigates hard questions such as where to draw borders, how to deal with disputed territories, and which names to include in the maps and atlases for which National Geographic is famous.

But make no mistake: Valdés’s curiosity about “the world and all that’s in it” (a phrase Alexander Graham Bell, one of the Society’s founding members, used to describe the scope of the organization’s mission) isn’t purely cartographic or limited to his desk. An avid traveler, Valdés is also a frequent expert guide for National Geographic Expeditions.

Here’s a look at the world through Juan José Valdés’s unique lens:

Christine Blau: You grew up in Cuba. What inspired you to become a geographer? 

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 Continue reading the original article on National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog, published on Sept. 26, 2014. 

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