Mercator projection or why most world maps are wrong

(ORDO NEWS) — The task of a geographical map is to give the most simplified view of the world, so every printed map is erroneous by definition. In order for the map to turn out to be accurate, it must be life-sized, or at least be round, not flat!

In small areas, the curvature of the Earth is imperceptible, but to “unroll” the entire globe, you will either have to stretch it or cut it into separate strips that can be placed on a flat sheet.

There are several ways to achieve this, but the Mercator projection, proposed by the cartographer and geographer Gerardus Mercator (March 5, 1512 – December 2, 1594) in 1569, is still widely used today, being one of the main map projections.

Imagine a transparent glass sphere, which depicts the earth’s continents in proportion. If a sheet of paper rolled into a cylinder is placed around the equator of the ball, and then the ball is illuminated from the inside, then the land areas will appear on the paper in the form of shadows. This is actually the Mercator projection.

However, it is impossible to indicate the poles on the cylinder (it is long and has holes on both sides), and as you move north or south from the equator, the land stretches more and more.

Mercator projection or why most world maps are wrong
Mercator projection and true area of ‚Äč‚Äčeach country

Greenland on the Mercator map looks 14 times bigger than it actually is.

People choose simplicity

The map below is a Gall-Peters projection, which was designed so that all countries have the most correct area.

Despite this, people continue to use the Mercator projection, which is the simplest version that everyone is used to.


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