True Size Atlas

The True Size of … is an interactive website that allows you to drag countries and continents around the Mercator projection and discover just how big they are (or aren’t). It is hard to represent our spherical world on flat piece of paper. Cartographers use something called a “projection” to morph the globe into 2D map. The most popular of these is the Mercator projection.

Every map projection introduces distortion, and each has its own set of problems. One of the most common criticisms of the Mercator map is that it exaggerates the size of countries nearer the poles (US, Russia, Europe), while downplaying the size of those near the equator (the African Continent). On the Mercator projection Greenland appears to be roughly the same size as Africa. In reality, Greenland is 0.8 million sq. miles and Africa is 11.6 million sq. miles, nearly 14 and a half times larger.

This app was created by James Talmage and Damon Maneice. It was inspired by an episode of The West Wing and an infographic by Kai Krause entitled “The True Size of Africa”. We hope teachers will use it to show their students just how big the world actually is.

PS Last image is Puerto Rico, we have “small country complex”, the solution would be to place it just above Greenland in the map!

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The oldest known map and/or landscape painting (original on top, reproduction on the bottom). This 9,000 year old work of art from Catal Huyuk, Turkey, depicts the settlement (one of humankind’s earliest) along with the eruption of a nearby volcano. Recently discovered evidence shows that the volcano did erupt around the time that the image was made.