The true size of Africa

The true Size of Africa

Maps have long been the preserve of the “Old World” and we like nothing more than putting ourselves at the centre of the map and making ourselves look big and important.  Representing a 3D object in 2 dimensions is not a simple task. Projections usually distort some areas of the globe in order to represent the World in a rough rectangle.

The Gall-Peters projection aims to represent land mass area reliably and results in an odd view of the World.  Odd, in that we are just so used to seeing land area distorted in-favor of the Northern Hemisphere.  Gall came up with this projection in 1855, but it was popularised by Peters in the 1980’s to highlight the misrepresentation and self importance of developed nations.   Most maps will show Greenland as being about the same size as Africa but it is actually 14 times smaller.

Today there is an article doing the rounds that reports the “true size of Africa”.  I picked this up from the Economist, and it shows the continent of Africa compared with a number of countries.  It is an eye-opener.  You can easily squeeze China, the USA, India and most of Europe into Africa and still have room to slide Japan in for good measure.  Africa is huge. Maps lie, or rather, we make maps for a purpose and this often emphasises a feature at the detriment of others we are less interested in.

The image has been released under a creative commons licence which is great.  You are free to download it and re-use it.

Economist article

Creative Commons Image

About Addy Pope

Addy is a member of the GeoData team at EDINA and work on services such as GoGeo, ShareGeo and the FieldtripGB app. Addy has over 10 years experience as a geospatial analyst. Addy tweets as @go_geo
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