The True Size of Africa: Understanding the Inaccuracies of Mercator Projection
Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, covering an area of 11.7 million square miles. However, despite its size, Africa is often misrepresented on maps due to the widespread use of the Mercator projection. This projection type was created in the 16th century and has become the standard for many world maps. However, it has several significant inaccuracies that distort the true size of the continents, including Africa.
One of the biggest problems with the Mercator projection is that it increases the size of objects as they move away from the equator. This means that areas closer to the poles appear much larger than they are in reality. For example, Greenland appears to be the same size as Africa on a Mercator map, but in reality, Africa is more than 14 times larger.
The issue of distorted maps has been brought to light by Kai Krause, a computer graphics pioneer. Krause created a series of maps that showcase the true size of different continents, including Africa. In his research, Krause found that the Mercator projection significantly exaggerates the sizes of Europe and North America while downplaying the size of Africa and South America.
Krause coined the term “immappancy” to describe the phenomenon of maps that distort the true size of the continents. He argues that the widespread use of inaccurate maps has contributed to a lack of understanding about the world, including its geography and culture.
It is important to note that other types of projections do not have the same inaccuracies as the Mercator projection. For example, the Gall-Peters projection accurately depicts the size of the continents but distorts their shape. The Mollweide projection is another option that provides a more accurate representation of the size of the continents while preserving their shape to a certain extent.
In conclusion, the Mercator projection has been the standard for many world maps for centuries. However, its inaccuracies have led to a distorted view of the world, particularly the true size of Africa. The research of Kai Krause has shed light on this issue and highlights the importance of using accurate maps in education and understanding the world. By using more accurate projections, we can better understand the true size and shape of the continents and work towards a more informed and connected world.
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