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A simple, interactive tool shows the real size of India, China, and Africa

Reuters/Rafael Marchante
Earth shattering.
By Omar Mohammed
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This post has been updated.

Africa is massive; 30.22 million sq km, in fact. It can swallow up the whole of Europe, for instance. The continent is the second largest in the world. Yet the Mercator map does not actually reflect this reality.

Via George the Geographer.

In early 2013 James Talmage and Damon Maneice, computer developers out of Detroit, created an interactive map that can help show the true size of nations and continents. Partly inspired by Kai Krause’s map and an episode of The West Wing, shows how distorting the Mercator map projections are.

How does the tool work? You enter a name of a country and then drag the country on to a geographical point of comparison whereby the tool adjusts the country to reflect its true size. For example, this is the size of Africa in relation to China and the US. Look at how the two biggest economies in the world can both be swallowed by the continent with room to spare.

The US and China’s size in relation to Africa.

Or look at Germany: Once a colonial power that presided over the whole of East Africa, is actually half the size of Tanzania.

Germany’s size in relation to Tanzania.

The True Size map points out that Mercator projections suggest that Greenland is about half the size of Africa, for example. The mind-blowing reality is that the continent is 14.5 times bigger than Greenland.

Greenland’s true size in relation to Africa.

Another perspective-altering example is that of Sudan (both North and South), which is almost the size of Western Europe, for instance.

Sudan’s size in relation to western Europe.

These visualizations challenge deeply held assumptions about the size of nations. But does the fact that Africa is bigger than initially thought in the public imagination change the way people think about the continent?  Krause says that is almost irrelevant.

“Africa is just immense—much, much larger than you or I thought,” he says. “Just look at it, realize that, and smile—because you will never forget it again.”

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