Because the Earth is roughly spherical, every flat map distorts our planet one way or another.
The most popular version is the Mercator projection, created by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It’s been widely used for centuries, including today in various forms by Google Maps and many other online services.
This map preserves directional bearing, presenting rhumbs (imaginary lines that cut all meridians at the same angle) as straight lines, thus making it a useful tool for navigation.
Despite its benefits, the Mercator projection map drastically distorts the size and shape of objects approaching the poles. This may be the reason people have no idea how big some places really are.
- Alaska can fit inside the continental U.S. about three times.
- Greenland can fit inside Africa about 14 times.
- South America nearly doubles Europe‘s land mass.
- Antarctica looks like the second-smallest continent in maps.
By observing the elongation of latitudes in portions of the chart, an astute reader can now avoid these inaccuracies. However, the Mercator projection is profoundly misleading to the majority of people.
Dr. Arno Peters presented one of the best alternatives to the Mercator projection in 1974 at a conference in Germany, claiming to have invented it despite the finding of an identical map by James Gall in the 1800s.
The Gall-Peters projection is a map that makes it easier to see the relative sizes of places. It offers a more accurate representation of the world and it can be used for many purposes, such as in education, business and planning.
The Gall-Peters projection is a map that was developed by Christian missionary James Gall in 1855. It is also known as the equal-area projection because it preserves the shapes of states and countries by using an equal area for each one of them. This type of maps was created to offer a more accurate representation of the world than what we are used to seeing on maps like Mercator, which was created in 1569.
The Mercator projection distorts shapes and sizes, especially those near the poles. The most famous example is that Greenland appears larger
The Gall-Peters projection (seen below) makes it much easier to see the relative sizes of places.
This version, in particular, gets closer to demonstrating that the “South” is nearly twice as large as the “North” – 38.6 million square miles vs 18.9 million square miles. The Mercator, on the other hand, magnifies the North. As a result, Peters claimed, the Mercator projection demonstrates a euro-centric bias and undermines global perceptions of poor countries.