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The World Map That We All Know Is Full Of Errors



The most popular world map is known as Mercator. However, this map used even by Google Maps has several errors that most are unaware of.

In 1569 Gerardus Mercator devised the Mercator projection that today is used to make the maps that appear in our school books, in the atlases and in apps like Google Maps. However, the world map that we all use as a reference has several errors.

The famous map represents the shapes of the continents properly, but their dimensions are incorrect. This means that we have all studied a map that really misrepresents the size of the continents.

Take a look at the map:

If we look at the Mercator map we can see that Alaska is almost the same size as the US; however, Alaska is actually three times smaller than the US. So, Greenland is roughly the same size as Africa on the map, but it really is 14 times smaller.

Europe is not faithfully represented on the most popular world map either. If you look you can see that, not including Russia, Europe is a little smaller than South America. However, the reality is that South America is almost twice the size of Europe.

In addition, Antarctica seems immense compared to all continents, but it really is the third smallest ahead of Oceania and Europe.

Therefore, at first glance the Mercator map is extremely misleading. In addition, it has been harshly criticized for exaggerating the size of imperialist powers such as Europe and North America, and shrinking South America and Africa.

In 1974 Arno Peters presented an alternative at a German conference. It was a map identical to one devised by James Gall in the 19th century, so it was christened the Gall-Peters map. As we can see, this map better represents the dimensions of the continents:

Recently in some American colleges changed the Mercator map by the Gall-Peters. However, its representation is not perfect either; Despite representing the dimensions well, the shapes of the continents are wrong.

Later they have devised several maps later, but none managed to represent the world as it is without altering its size, shape, scale, direction or distance. The problem is that given the spherical shape of the earth it is very difficult to represent it correctly on a two-dimensional plane.


Currently the most accurate map is the AuthaGraph, designed by the Japanese architect Hajime Narukawa. For their elaboration, they divided the spherical balloon into 96 triangles and then transferred them to tetrahedra. By unfolding it, it becomes a rectangle, keeping the correct proportions.

The problem with this map, explains Visual Capitalist, is that the lines of latitude and longitude no longer form a grid. In addition, the relocation of the continents is very confusing for those who are accustomed to the Mercator map, hindering its practical use.

However, as we can see every time there is a greater effort to find a map that more accurately represents the earth. We will have to wait to see what will be the next project that tries to get closer without disorienting the population.