I'm pretty sure the mapmakers didn't have reality in mind when creating this map. In fact I think edbeard stated right away that he was concerned only with the gameplay. I'm glad he approached it this way.
I'm in round 5 of a 3 player game and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I'm dominating in Territs, but I definitely don't feel like I'm winning. I think the land to sea connections are spread out well to make sure that the game is balanced, but still affording some strongholds.
I love the graphics because they don't try to re-create history or geography class, although I do appreciate that in other maps on the site. It is nice to play a game that looks like a game.
As for preferential treatment, I wouldn't know anything about that. I did skim through this thread and there was certainly resistance to the development of the map. It seems to me that all reasonable requests/concerns were addressed.
I'm definitely giving it a thumbs up and I'm sure I'll play it again.