Your Image of the World Will Never Be the Same Again


Historically it’s been very hard to represent a 3D planet on a 2D map. The Mercator projection was created as a way around this. On concord as the clever people at show, all may not be as it seems…

Firstly, you can see how the size of the US drastically changes as you move it north or south.

Image of the World

Few countries are significantly larger. They should be thankful to the Mercator projection while others, anything near the equator are definitely getting a bum deal. The US falls somewhere in the middle.

On a standard map, it’s dwarfed by Canada. But here you can see the moves. They are moving it to where Canada is located. So it seems even more prominent than it already is.

Note: This post will frequently use the USA as shorthand for the 48 contiguous states. We love Hawaii and Alaska, honest – it’s just easier to fit things in this way. Alaska is HUGE. Or is it…

This post will frequently use the USA as shorthand for the 48 contiguous states. We love Alaska and Hawaii. It’s just easier to fit things in this way. Alaska is HUGE or is it?

It is clear that they aren’t as dissimilar in size as most people think, only if Canada is moved down to where the US.


People often forget how big Australia is because it’s so far away from other land masses. When you move it over Europe, what happens is shown here.


It pretty much covers the whole of the continent. Struth!

Back to Alaska – This map shows that while it’s still the biggest US state, it’s nowhere near as big as most maps make it look.


If you move the USA’s second largest state, Texas, over the top of it, you can see there isn’t too much difference.


At least, not THIS much difference.


Sorry, Alaska. You’ve been rumbled.

Now onto a continent that usually takes up the whole of the bottom of a map – Antartica.


The Mercator projection really goes to shit when it comes to land masses that cover the poles. Usually, it’s impossible to tell how big Antarctica really is just from looking at a map. But using this tool we can see it’s roughly the size of western Africa. So now you know.

How big the USA is compared with Europe is shown in this map, but it also does something else rather interesting…


Actually, this map shows the exact latitude of the USA. So it really helps you understand the relative positions of cities on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
For instance, Paris sits just north of the Canadian border. Chicago is found at nearly the exact same latitude as Istanbul, and Florida extends as far south as southern Egypt.

Note: It was this tweet from @TBoneGallagher that inspired this whole post.

And if you do the same thing with the UK, it’s easy to understand why we’re not exactly used to warm weather.


The UK shares a latitude with deepest Canada to the west, and on the right, you can see that Edinburgh is on a level with Moscow.

But because it’s so far north, the UK also benefits from the shortcomings of the Mercator projection.


If Britain were on the equator it would be absolutely tiny. But at least the weather would be tolerable.

Greenland is arguably, the place that is most blatantly taking the piss.


On the equator it would be a similar size to many central African countries. Though it’s still big compared with the US, it’s not quite as terrifying as it once was.

You get a sense of just how tiny we really are. Overlaying California on top of the UK


Perhaps, how much we try to punch above our weight?

Things really get crazy when you move the US that is minus Alaska and Hawaii down under.


How are they the same size? This is not OK. Hold me…

Here’s what happens to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as you move it north. Being so close to the equator, Africa gets mightily screwed by the Mercator projection.


Here’s what happens when you overlay the five largest countries in Africa on top of the USA.


In case you’re wondering, from largest to smallest they are 1. Algeria (red), 2. DRC (pink), 3. Sudan (blue), 4. Libya (purple), and 5. Chad (orange).

You May Also LikeTransfer Your Maps From Desktop To Mobile Device