By Mutiah Fauzan
Do you remember what world map or globe looks like? Do you have any idea which continent or countries are bigger than others? Would you believe me if I say the sizes and the placement in the world map and the globe are not accurate? (Yes! It’s mind blowing, right?)
According to National Geographic, there are many things in the world map or globe that is not accurate, but for some reasons we are still referring to this map for guidance. For example, South America is south of North America. But the fact is that virtually the entire South American continent is east of Florida.
Famous cartographer, John Nelson said that this is due to various reasons. One reason is maps are essentially simplifications, and the misplaced Americas maybe be because partially the results of their name.
But what about the continents? According to the National Geographic, continents are also misplaced. Africa for instance, we tend to think that Africa located almost entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, similar to South America, but it is far from the truth. Africa actually extends northward and have same latitude as Norfolk, Virginia. Europe is also a continent that’s misplaced. It is placed much further south and directly across the Atlantic from United States; but Europe’s real location is aligned more with Canada’s location. Nelson suspects that this is probably due to the climate. The Gulf Stream brings warmer weather to the so called Mediterranean climate. So, Europe is place together with the warmer countries in the map.
But at least the size of the world map got it correct, right? Well, not really.
All the world map that we are have grown so familiar with is not accurate.
What can one expect when one turns a three-dimensional globe into flat surface? Experts use Mercator projection. Greenland is similar size to South America but the truth is South America is eight times bigger than Greenland. Mercator maps distort the shape and relative size of continents, particularly near the poles. This is why Greenland appears to be similar in size to all of South America on Mercator maps, when in fact South America is more than considerably larger than Greenland.
But of course the real questions that we all should ask is “Why are we still using these maps?” With its significant impact on the world, why do we use these inaccurate information? Just a food for thought!