Google maps top 10 black spots

07:00, Mar 21 2012
Vlissingen, The Netherlands - Google map image
Vlissingen, The Netherlands: Properties owned by the Dutch royal family aren't the only places blurred in the Netherlands. Joining the list are the oil tanks in Vlissingen (pictured), as well as several army bases and air force bases. The land area to the left also appears to be pixelated and adjusted.
Babylon, Iraq - Google Maps image
Babylon, Iraq: The city of Babylon, Iraq looks more like endless farmland than a bustling city.
Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Plant - Google Maps image
Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Plant, New York: The Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Plant in Ithaca, NY - which opened in 2010 - is blurred on Google Maps. The high-tech, eco-friendly facility generates electricity from natural gas as a part of the university's effort to lower its carbon dioxide emissions.
The Michael Aaf Building, Utah - Google Maps image
The Michael Aaf Building, Utah: The Dugway Proving Ground in Dugway, Utah is a region occupied by the US Army where the military can test biological and chemical weapon systems. The Michael Aaf building on the proving ground is whited out, most likely for security reasons.
Minami Torishima Airport, Japan - Google Maps image
Minami Torishima Airport, Japan: The Minami Torishima Airport - a one-runway airport serving the island of Minami Torishima, located off the east coast of Japan - is oversaturated with white. It is currently used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force.
Mysterious Russian Site - Google Maps image
Mysterious Russian Site: We're not entirely sure why this location in Russia has been blurred out, especially since it's in the Siberian tundra. The closest city is Egvekinot, Russia, which is a neighbour to Alaska across the Bering Strait.
Keowee Dam, South Carolina - Google Maps image
Man-made reservoir Keowee Dam on Lake Keowee in South Carolina is also blurred on Google Maps. Shaped like a Christmas tree, the dam helps run a power utility called the Duke Energy company.
Tantauco National Park, Chile - Google Maps image
Tantauco National Park, Chile: The Tantauco National Park in Chile can only be seen from a marker via Google Maps. The private natural reserve is home to many endangered animals.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport - Google Maps image
Buffalo Niagara International Airport: The Buffalo Niagara International Airport is largely whited out on Google Maps and details can't be seen when the area is zoomed in.
The Royal Residence, The Netherlands - Google Maps image
The Royal Residence, The Netherlands: The Royal Palace of Amsterdam in the Netherlands - called Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam - joins a long list of places blurred on Google Maps related to the Dutch royal family, including the Royal Stables and another residence called Huis ten Bosch.

* This post was originally published on

Want an up close view of the Eiffel Tower but can't make it to Paris anytime soon? Google Maps is optimal for virtual sightseeing. But not every landmark is visible on the site - some images are blurred and distorted by countries for security reasons.

This means that if you want to see towns or streets in North Korea, you can't. Also blurred is the Royal Palace in the Netherlands and even a power plant on Cornell University's campus in Ithaca, New York.

"The satellite and aerial imagery in Google Earth and Google Maps is sourced from a wide range of both commercial and public sources," Google spokesperson Deanna Yick tells Mashable. "These third-party providers are required to follow the law of the countries in which they operate, so some of them may blur images and then supply us with those images."

When Google Maps first launched, images of the White House and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC were blurred. They have since been restored.

Yick said Google is constantly updating the imagery as a part of an effort to create the most graphically-rich and useful maps possible.

"We strive to publish the best data possible, and take into account many elements when determining which imagery is optimal, such as imagery date, resolution and clarity," Yick said. "We receive updated information from our data providers from time to time, and if those updates improve the imagery of the area based on all of those quality elements, we may elect to publish that updated imagery even if the provider has blurred certain regions of the image."

For a look at some of the world's blurred-out locations, check out the gallery above.

* Do you think it's justified that some images are blurred on Google Maps? Have you ever noticed anything mysterious on the site? Share your thoughts in the comments.