Weekly Warm-Up: Meet Juan José Valdés, Nat Geo’s Geographer

This profile of Nat Geo’s own rock-star geographer, Juan José Valdés, was written by former Nat Geo Intern Justin Fisch in June 2012. It’s as relevant and inspiring now as it was then. Look forward to a beautiful list of Juan’s favorite maps in Monday’s #TeachNatGeo post!

What are the first two things you think about when you hear the words National Geographic? (After “geography education,” of course!)

Maps! These esteemed National Geographic products have been around for more than a century, having enjoyed widespread dissemination and international fame. This week’s Geography Awareness Week theme, “Explore! The Power of Maps” is a great introduction to our resources.

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce National Geographic’s official geographer, Mr. Juan José Valdés. Mr. Valdés, originally from Cuba, heads the Maps Division at the Society. In this role, he directs map research, oversees editing, and acts as an arbiter of cartographic policy for the Society, delving into contentious political debates about appropriate place-names and boundaries throughout the world.

In our Weekly Warm-Up video, Mr. Valdés shares how his education and life experiences as a child refugee have led to his role in the Society. He also gives viewers a glimpse into the process of National Geographic publishing its first map of Cuba in more than 100 years.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic
Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic

Your students can learn what it takes to be Nat Geo’s geographer with Juan’s Real-World Geography profile. His input and knowledge have been valuable to various programs in the Society—including the pronunciation of place-names in the yearly National Geographic Bee.

Students can also get started on their own cartographic careers—or just enjoy some beautiful maps—with our collection of mapping resources.



Nat Geo: Maps

Nat Geo: Mapping

Nat Geo: Geographer: Juan Valdes

Nat Geo: Get Started with MapMaker Interactive

Nat Geo: Giant Traveling Maps

Nat Geo: 1-Page Maps

Nat Geo: Mapping Games

Nat Geo: MapMaker Kits

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