Africa is as big as the United States, China, India, Japan and all of Europe combined — so why are our maps telling us otherwise?
World maps are liars. Because they don’t accurately represent the curvature of the Earth, they increasingly exaggerate the size of regions the further they are from the equator. This means tropical nations appear to be smaller than they really are, while the industrialised countries seem bigger.
The biggest liar of them all is the Mercator projection map, which has been around since 1569. While the Mercator projection is useful for navigation, it grossly misrepresents the size of different regions. And while it has been superseded by better projections, it is still in use in some surprising places — this is how it looks on the BBC World News page.
Does this create a false sense of the relative importance of rich and poor countries and regions? Probably. Africa in particular gets short-changed. Greenland appears to be more or less the same size, yet in reality Africa’s surface area is 14 times larger.
To correct such misrepresentation, Kai Krause has created this map and associated information to show that Africa’s total area is almost the same as that of the United States, China, India, Japan and all of Europe combined.
Krause has put this image in the public domain for anyone to use. It should be on newspaper pages and classrooms walls around the world.