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It may come as a surprise to hear that there is no truly correct way of representing the earth as a flat image.

The way our planet is represented on a world globe, on a flat paper map or as a flat image on our screens, is related to Projections.

A world map projection is a visual representation of this challenge using a grid composed of lines of longitude and latitude.

Drawing a World map is laying a sphere flat. Mathematical calculations are used to convert the coordinate system used on the curved surface of earth to one for a flat surface. Nonetheless, it is impossible to do so without creating spatial distortions. Therefore, a projection not only means a different mathematical formula but also compromise.

Various map projections provide different properties. Some preserve shape, while others preserve distance. Some preserve area or direction.

Mercator: Cylindrical projection.
Widely used for navigation charts and most common to our eyes but distortions make areas further away from the equator disproportionately large.

Peters: Cylindrical equal-area Projection.
Shows countries in their true proportion to another but creates distortions on most shapes.

A projection usually accommodates the shape of the area where we are located but did you know that…

  • Greenland is smaller than India.
  • Africa is 1,8 times bigger than Russia.
  • Antarctica is 1,4 times bigger than Canada.
  • Latin America is slightly bigger than Russia.

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