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This is the True Size of Africa

How large is Africa compared to the United States, or Western Europe? Most inhabitants of the latter places might guess it is a little larger, but few would have any idea of the scale of the difference. This has led German graphics designer Kai Krause to produce this map to shake people’s ideas a little.

Any attempt to map a round planet onto a flat map will involve distortions of size, shape or both. There is a passionate debate among cartographers about the best way to hang the world on a wall, but most agree that the most common maps we get our sense of the world from are very bad ways to do it. The problem is that these maps exaggerate the size of the countries at high latitudes, and shrink places near the equator – leading to a perception that Europe is larger than South America, to pick just one example among many.

Africa, which spans the equator, fares particularly badly on these sorts of projections: Krause says, “Africa is so mind-numbingly huge, that it exceeds the common assumptions by just about anyone I ever met: it contains the entirety of the USA, all of China, India, as well as Japan and pretty much all of Europe as well – all combined!”

Some have argued that since people associate size with importance this encourages the already strong tendency of the world’s wealthiest nations to disregard those who live in the tropics.

Below is a video from the American television political-drama, ‘The West Wing’. It has many factual pieces of information in it like the one below.


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