Take a seat before you read this, because I’m about to turn your world upside down, almost literally. Remember all those insufferable hours spent in Geography class, listening to your teacher (dressed head-to-toe in brown, amiright?) droning on about the size of countries and continents? What if I were to tell you it was spent in vain, because much of what you learnt was incorrect? Sorry, but our world is not as we know it!
For example, if you were ever taught that Greenland was about the same size as Africa, guess what – you were fed lies! In reality, Africa is almost 14 ½ times larger than Greenland, but you can’t tell that by looking at a regular world map. Why? Because for centuries cartographers have used a ‘projection’ to turn our 3D world into a 2D map (with the most common of these called the Mercator Projection) but every projection has its own distortion, which therefore makes it impossible to accurately represent our world on a piece of paper.
The main problem with a Mercator map is that it exaggerates the size of countries closest to the poles (such as the USA, Russia, and Europe), while minimising the size of those near the equator (like the African continent).
After seeing an episode of ‘The West Wing’, that featured a different kind of map (based on the Peters Projection instead of the Mercator Projection), two friends James Talmage and Damon Maneice decided to create a web app to show the world exactly who’s got the land mass and who hasn’t. They hope teachers will use it to show their students just how big the world actually is.
Have fun dragging countries across the screen and placing them on top of others to see their true size. It’s jaw-dropping stuff.
It seems some of the supposed ‘big guns’ of the world aren’t so big anymore, and seeing definitely isn’t believing, at least when it comes to the maps we’ve grown up with.