Google Maps has updated its maps for North Korea to show a far more detailed road layout and landscape. However, without governmental approval to drive its own Street View cars around the country, the mapping arm of the software giant has had to turn to its citizens instead.

Until now, the maps of North Korea have been fairly devoid of detail. In places, there have just been large, blank holes. But, thanks to the aid of cartographers who live there and Google's online editing service - Google Map Maker - many of the gaps have been filled in.

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Before the Google Map Maker update

The ability to add local information in North Korea has been open for a couple of years, so the new version has been fiddled with and refined by native North Koreans for a fair while. It is not live on Google Maps.

"We know this map is not perfect," says Google. "One of the exciting things about maps is that the world is a constantly changing place. We encourage people from around the world to continue helping us improve the quality of these maps for everyone with Google Map Maker. From this point forward, any further approved updates to the North Korean maps in Google Map Maker will also appear on Google Maps."

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After the Google Map Maker update

More than 200 other regions around the world are accessible in Google Map Maker today, mainly of areas that are hard for the Google team to traverse and map. The company is looking for amateur and professional cartographers to help out in order to provide the most complete and comprehensive online mapping solution out there.

Pic: (cc) Joseph A Ferris III