Quick Reads

Cyprus a no-GO: how a war led to no wild Pokémon

Thanks to a demiltarised buffer zone implemented almost half a century ago, players in parts of Cyprus have odd time zones and no wild spawns in Pokémon GO.

The wild spawns you can see in Pokémon GO strongly depend on where you are in the wild. In a large city? You’ll be swimming in them. In a rural area? Sucks to be you. But some places are especially unlucky, thanks to the reliance on Open Street Maps (OSM).

A well-documented example covered by gaming website Eurogamer involved the Greek island of Salamis. The OSM map for the entire island had been flagged with a “natural=bay” tag, which prevented any Pokémon from spawning – and this lasted for over seven months. It turns out Cyprus has a similar issue, and the hope is that attention can be drawn to the issue so that Niantic may fix the problem for players living there. But why Cyprus has this issue is a much more interesting case.

Cyprus. Red regions depict a UN Buffer Zone, and yellow British military bases.

The full history lesson is provided in this Reddit thread by user solis_f12. The Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960 when the British Empire decided to leave, but not before establishing military bases in the areas marked yellow on the map. These areas are treated as British territory, so these parts of the island have a timezone of GMT +1, rather than GMT+3 – already an aspect that affects time-based events (sometimes to the advantage of players able to move around easily).

But in 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, and to this day occupies almost 40% of the island. The United Nations set up a demilitarised buffer zone between the two zones (the red parts of the map), which has lasted for 47 years. These parts of the island are depicted in OSM accordingly – and in Pokémon GO, these military areas cannot spawn any Pokémon. Therefore, much of Cyprus cannot spawn wild Pokémon without players using items. As solis_f12 summarises:

We have several villages in the UN Buffer Zone which is marked as a military area. This prevents pokemon spawns in PoGo but does not obstruct any other functionality in PoGo or any other of their games. Also, the timezone is wrong. I am not 100% about this since I live on the southern side of the island, but I presume this problem affects both sides. I have also confirmed that this problem is present since the game launched in 2016 but a lot of reports fell on deaf ears, so people gave up and accepted it.

Despite these clear issues, no helpful support was provided to Cyprus players. Here’s hoping that Niantic can properly acknowledge the issue, and furthermore fix it for the players of Cyprus, so that they can see Pokémon spawn again.

Are you aware of any other part of the world suffering from OSM issues resulting in no Pokémon GO wild spawns?

Thanks to solis_f12 for the informative post and permission to share this. 

Edited by Rabinov.