The distortion is the result of the Mercator map which was created in 1596 to help sailors navigate the world. For instance, North America looks larger, or at least as big, as Africa, and Greenland also looks of comparable size. In reality, you can fit North America into Africa and still have space for India, Argentina, Tunisia and some left over. Map suggests Scandinavian countries are larger than India, whereas in reality India is three times the size. The biggest challenge for cartographers is that it is impossible to portray reality of spherical world on a flat map.
- it is impossible to produce an accurate flat image, showing the layout of countries as they really are. It’s a hard concept to get your head around with an actual globe in front of you, but this video from Vox does a good job of explaining it .
- That creates a type of map called the Mercator projection. That’s the sort of map you see in schools, and it is also what Google uses.
- It is good because countries retain their proper shape. But it makes some countries look much bigger than they are.
“The thing is, the image you think of what the world looks like is actually pretty wrong. How come? Well, as we’re sure you know, the Earth is spherical. Which means that it is impossible to produce an accurate flat image, showing the layout of countries as they really are”