Africa on world maps

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It can be seen that many countries on the globe look smaller or bigger. This is because the earth is not a complete sphere. Also, most digital maps are made in two dimensions so there will always be a risk of distortion while projecting the valuable geographical information. All projections are always a balance of area, shape, direction, bearing, distance, and scale. As of 2019, there are one or two different projections that help to minimize the inaccuracies of projecting several regions of the globe on a two-dimensional map; they use a collection of assumptions that create accurate and easy to understand maps.

The most popular projection style called the Mercator projection is not to scale. This projection is used for navigation and very widely re-produced. The construction of the Mercator map involves preserving meridians as straight and parallel lines.

As a side-effect of that aim, the continent of Africa looks smaller on Mercator maps. The relative scale of the earth is not perfect so, due to this, many other regions also appear smaller. Those regions that are above or below the equator appear larger than the regions that are located near the equator. That is one of the main reasons why Africa seems smaller on Mercator-like maps. Another reason is that while projecting the plan on the flat paper, you have to compromise on accuracy. Many map projections have been used over time including Mercator, Van Der Gratin, Robinson, Dymaxion, Winkel-Tripel, Goode Homolosine, Hobo-Dyer, Plate Carree, A Globe, Waterman Butterfly, Peirce Quincuncial, and Gall-Peters. During the passage of time, many map projection styles have also fallen into obsolescence, and now the world is mostly following Gall-Peters and Mercator.

Mercator map

This map was created in 1569, and a Flemish Geographer named Gerardus Mercator designed it. This is a cylindrical map projection of the world and many countries of the world follow it.

The best part of this map is that the projection is made in cylindrical form. Through this projection, it becomes quite easy to view the entire globe. Another advantage of this projection is that this projection is quite useful for navigation. This is because meridians are kept in a straight line and that makes so easy to navigate it.

There are also some disadvantages of Mercator projection. Principal among them is the disadvantage that the size of objects is distorted because when the latitude increases from the equator to the poles and scale becomes infinite.

How 15 countries world look in a different position

Many countries that are located on the map look completely different when the position of countries are changed on the map. Work was done by Iveta of Bored Panda to explore this issue with 30 territories. Follow this link to see the full article. For this article we look at 15 examples in the following part.

USA next to Australia

The size of the United States of America and Australia is not the same. But in the same location on a Mercator map, it would appear that Australia and America are practically equal in size. The total area of Australia is about 7.692 million Km2, and on the other side, the overall volume of America is approximately 9.832 million Km2. America is more than 2000 million Km2 larger than the size of Australia, but on the global map.

Russia on the equator

The total size of Russia is about 17.1 million sq. kilometers. It is quite more significant than one continent, Australia according to the actual position of this country. But if this country is located on the Equator of the globe, its size is almost the same as the size of Australia.

Romania on the Arctic Circle

Romania is located in Europe. The total size of this country is 238,397 Km2. According to the image, the actual size of Romania is 2.38 million Km2, but it looks minimal on the map. If we placed that country on the Arctic Circle, its size becomes hugely larger than before. It can be said that its size becomes three times larger.

Australia in Europe’s position

The actual position of Australia is not to far below the equator of the globe. That is one of the main reasons that its size looks small. If Australia were placed on the entirety of Europe, it would cover almost the whole of Europe. The total area of Europe is about 10.7 Km2 and on the other side Australia is approximately 7.6 million Km2

Brazil in Asia

The total size of Brazil is about 8.5 million Km2. Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world by area. This Country is almost half the size of Russia. But owing to its position on the equator, the Mercator size of Brazil is not equal to its accurate size. If it were placed in Asia, it can be seen that its size is almost the half size of Russia.

Greenland in Northern and Central America

The actual size of Greenland is about 2.166 million sq. km. Due to the distortion on the Mercator map, according to its exact position, the area charted does not match the actual area. But when it is placed in the USA, its size is almost equal to two to three states of this country, and when it is situated on the Equator, its size becomes virtually identical to its original area.

Canada to South America

The actual size of Canada is about 9.985 million Km2. Its size is almost the same as the USA, but Canada looks more prominent than the USA on most world maps due to the position of Canada on the Mercator map. If the situation is changed and it is placed on South America, then its size is almost equal to its actual area.

California on top of the UK

California is a state within the USA and if this state is placed on the United Kingdom, its size is larger than that of the UK. The total area of California is 424,000 Km2 and on the other side of the Atlantic, the entire area of the UK is 243,000 Km2.

China on top of Russia

The total area of China is about 9.59 million Km2; this is equal to half the area of Russia. Due to the construction principles of the Mercator map the actual position of China is suitable for an accurate projection. If China is placed over the position of Russia, it is easier to observe that it is half the area of Russia.

India on top of Russia

India is one of the biggest counties in the world. The total area of India is about 3.287 million Km2, which is less than one-sixth the land area of Russia. Due to its actual position on the Mercator map, it looks much smaller than one-sixth of the area of Russia. If the position of India is changed and it is placed on Russia, its size is quite more prominent than before. This is because the geographic position of India is closer to the equator relative to Russia.

United States on top of Europe

There is a very little comparison between the area of USA and Europe excluding Russia; but the area of Europe is greater than America. It can be seen from the image that when USA is placed on the whole Europe, the USA covers most of the continent.

US on top of the Equator

This figure easily explains when the position of country is moved above the equator and on the equator. It can be seen when the USA is placed on Canada, the total size of the USA is almost the same as Canada. When the USA is placed on the equator, its size becomes smaller than its Mercator projection.

Mexico over Greenland

The total area of Mexico is about 1.973 million Km2 while the area of Greenland is approximately 2.166 million Km2. Mexico appears much smaller than Greenland, less the 40% the size of Greenland, because it is closer to the Equator; however, if Mexico is placed on Greenland, it has almost the same size.

Democratic Republic of Congo in Greenland

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country that is located in Africa. Moreover, the total area of this country is about 2.345 million Km2 and its size is just a little bigger than that of Greenland. The Mercator projection makes the DRC look very tiny compared to Greenland according to the position of both countries and the construction rules of the Mercator projection. But when the DRC is placed on Greenland, it covers the whole area of Greenland because it is larger than Greenland.

Canada on top of the USA

The total area of Canada and the USA is almost the same. According to the map it can be seen that Canada looks quite bigger than the USA, but when the shape of Canada is placed on the USA, its size is nearly the same.


Henricus Martellus map

Christopher Columbus probably used this type of map in the early 1490s. A German, who the map is named after, made this map.

The Henricus Martellus map originated in the early 1490s. The strength of this map is that it featured all the best routes in those early days. The weakness of this map is that many areas on the map were unclear.

The Henricus Martellus map. Image: The Picture Art Collection, Alamy Stock Photo

Mercator V Gall-Peters map

In Mercator, the areas above the equator show more significance and below the equator shows smaller.

In Gall-Peters, the area above the equator looks smaller, and the area below the equator seems greater.

Hobo-Dyer Equal Area Map

Hobo–Dyer projection of the world. Image: Reproduced under Wikimedia Commons license.

Comparison of the Hobo–Dyer projection and some cylindrical equal-area map projections with Tissot indicatrix, standard parallels and aspect ratio. Image: Reproduced under Wikimedia Commons license.

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Africa on world maps

by Editorial Team time to read: 7 min