Africa > This is the TRUE size of Africa

Africa: This is the TRUE size of Africa

2016/01/08

Our most common atlases are distorting the relative size of nations around the world, so German software and graphics designer, Kai Krause, made this map to set the record straight. (Scroll down for a additional detailed, zoomable version.)Don't believe what other maps have taught you - most of them have been distorted for centuries. Here's what it actually looks like to cram a bunch of nations into the extensive landmass that is Africa.

"Africa is so mind-numbingly immense, that it exceeds the common assumptions by just about anyone I ever met," he writes at his website. "It contains the entirety of the US, all of China, India, inclunding Japan and pretty much all of Europe as well - all combined!"

It was displayed a few years back in a London gallery as part of a Royal Geographic Society exhibition, for which the curator wanted contributions of “unusual maps”. While Krause says this is a purely symbolic image, made to illustrate just how large Africa is without the very common map distortion known as the Mercator projection.

The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection invented by pioneering Flemish geographer and cartographer, Gerardus Mercator, in 1569. And presently, centuries later, it's still being used as the standard map projection for nautical travellers because it can be used to determine a ' authentic' direction.

Any of the straight lines on the map are a line of constant authentic bearing, so all a navigator needs is one of these maps and a compass to plot a straight course across the ocean. The meridians are drawn as equally spaced, parallel vertical lines, as are the lines of latitude, but horizontally. The further away from the Equator they are, the further away they're spaced apart in the map. This means that landmasses that are located far away from the Equator look disproportionately huge compared to their Equator-hugging neighbours.

And, as Krause points out on his website, this type of map is ubiquitous in traditional geography education. We see the Mercator projection as the background in our daily television news, and the covers of school atlases. "But the basic fact is that a three-dimensional sphere being shown as a single two-dimensional flat image will always be subject to a conversion loss: something has to give…" he says. "That ability to use lines instead of curves came at a cost: areas near the poles would be greatly exaggerated. Greenland looks deceivingly as if it were the size of all of South America for instance…"

In fact, thanks to the Mercator projection, the size of Africa is often hugely underestimated, says Krause, off by factor of two or three.

So here is the authentic size of Africa, distortion-free. Click here for a larger, zoomable version, courtesy of The Economist.

Edit: Kai Krause has contacted us to let us know that the previous headline image we used was a variation on Krause's work by the folks at The Economist. We have updated the image to be Krause's work only.

Related Articles
  • Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz Calls For New Strategy

    2017/10/19 Joseph Stiglitz has advised African nations to adopt coordinated strategy encompassing agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and service sectors to attain same success delivered by the old manufacturing export-led strategy. Prof. Stiglitz, an economist and professor at Columbia University, New York, gave the advice at the Babacar Ndiaye lecture series introduced by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) which debuted in Washington D.C.
  • Innoson Motors To Export 400 Nigerian Made Vehicles To Mali

    2017/10/19 According to Yara Abdulsalam, the Charge‘d Affair of Nigeria in Mali, a Nigerian motor manufacturing company, Innoson Motors, has signed MoU with a Malian firm to export 400 locally made vehicles to Mali. Speaking on Friday in Abuja, Abdulsalam made the announcement at the same time as he led a delegation of businessmen from Mali to visit the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama. Abdulsalam pointed that during the week, Innoson Motors signed Memorandum of Considerate with Taxi Plus VIP, a Mali based transport company for the expansion of transport business in that country.
  • Ecobank launches mVisa across 33 African Countries

    2017/10/19 Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa delivers instant, fasten cashless payment for goods and services by allowing customers to scan a QR code on a smartphone or enter a incomparable merchant identifying code into either a feature phone or smartphone Ecobank (https://Ecobank.com) has partnered with Visa to launch Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa solutions to their consumers. The strategic tie-up signals interoperability on a cross border level – and potentially huge gains – as it affords consumers with the ability to use their mobile phone to due access the funds in their bank accounts to pay person-to-merchant (P2M) or person-to-person (P2P).
  • “Africa will become the food basket of the world” – Dangote

    2017/10/17 Nigerian business leader Aliko Dangote told investors Africa will become the food basket of the world.” In a packed room at the headquarters of world law firm Shearman and Sterling LLC high-level business leaders and international diplomats invited by the Corporate Council for Africa to hear Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame openly discuss on Africa’s opportunities and challenges.
  • Drought cuts 14pc in tea production

    2017/10/17 Tea production in the initial eight months of the year dropped 14 % due to a severe drought in the initial quarter. Monthly data from the Tea Directorate indicate the volumes of the crop dropped from 309 million kilos last year between January and August to 265 million kilos in the corresponding period this year.