The True Size of Our World Map

Take a look at the map below. When you look at the continent of Africa and the country Russia, you will see that on the map Africa is a lot smaller than Russia. The world map that is known to you and right now in front of you is completely wrong.

The world according to the Mercator projection 
© Creative Commons 3.0, Strebe.

Russia and Africa are not the only ones that are distorted displayed on the traditional world map. Also if you look on Google Maps, or in the atlas, you will see the same formats. Greenland, for example, seems huge. But is that true?

When we take a look at the website of “The True Size” everything gets a lot clearer. We made a comparison between Russia and Africa. As you can see on the picture below, Africa is several times larger than Russia. With the maps tool of “The True Size” you can compare every country in the world. Type the name of the country that you want to compare, and then drag it over the map, so you see the differences. Drag a country towards one of the two poles, they suddenly get much larger, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which suddenly turns out to be the same size as Western Europe.

Russia - Africa

Why is that?

The difference has everything to do with the way in which we look to the world maps for hundreds of years: via the Mercator projection. The Vlaming Gerardus Mercator developed the map in 1569 for the shipping. The map can’t give any projection of the Earth on a flat surface without distortions, because of the spherical shape of the earth. The further you’ll get from the equator, the greater the distortions will be. Also Europe for example, gets the opportunity to show more countries on the map when it’s in a bigger size.

The True Size of Afrika

The large deformation and the fact that for example Africa seems much smaller than it actually is, make the Mercator projection in recent years more and more controversial. Also the info chart The True Size of Africa shows why. It is easy to see that Africa is in fact greater than the United States, China, India, Japan and all over Europe together.

A possible variant of the actual size of the Earth would be the Gall-Peters projection, which at first glance looks strange, but actually approaches the actual shape of the Earth better than the Mercator projection. UNESCO is in favour of these maps!

Gall-Peters Projection

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