This is the map most of us are used to seeing. It hangs in thousands of classrooms. It is also completely distorted! Known as the Mercator Map, it was presented by a Flemish geographer and cartographer named Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It was designed for navigational purposes, and is considered to have accurate shapes and distances between each continent. However, the actual sizes of continents and countries are grossly misrepresented. Thousands of maps have been presented and utilized throughout history, and cartographers have long faced the daunting task of realistically portraying a spherical world on a flat map. However, Dr. Arnos Peters did just that with his Peters Map:
Despite Greenland looking comparable in size to Africa on the commonly used Mercator map, in actuality Africa is 14 times larger! No seriously, Africa is HUGE.
Other interesting observations:
- While Antarctica looks ginormous, it could actually fit inside of Africa.
- Alaska could fit inside of Mexico.
- Brazil is 5 times larger than Alaska, but looks smaller on the map.
- Scandinavian countries appear larger than India, yet in actuality India is 3 times larger than them all combined.
- India is also larger than Greenland.
- Russia can fit inside of Africa.
- The United States is significantly larger than Europe.
If you’re still intrigued and would like to test out these claims, check out TheTrueSize.com. This website shows you the world map you’re used to seeing, but when you type in a country or state, you can drag it across the world and see it’s size change to realistic proportions. Enjoy!