True Size and False Maps

The real problem with the Mercator projection

A rectangular world map projection showing physical landforms. America lies on the left hand side, while Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia on the right. Antarctica is partially shown at the bottom. Both the northernmost and southernmost section are massively distorted to gigantic sizes.
The Mercator projection (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)
A rectangular world map projection showing physical landforms. America lies on the left hand side, while Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia on the right. Antarctica is thinly shown at the bottom. The shapes are stretched vertically on the center area, and and both the northernmost and southernmost section are heavily compressed.
The Gall-Peters projection (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons [My modification: Cropping of black borders])

Defining maps

Politicizing maps

An antique rectangular world map showing the territories of British Empire in 1886. These include Britain, Canada, South Africa, India and Australia, among other smaller regions.
A world map with red markings on territories of British Empire in 1886. The frame, displaying people from diverse cultures all over the world looking to a personification of Britain sitting on a globe in the middle, is open to interpretations. (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)

Understanding maps

A non-conventional world map projection consisting of different triangles and quadrangles. Its northern hemisphere lies at its center, with Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia stretching towards the left hand side of the map, and America and Antarctica stretching towards the right hand side of the map.
A non-conventional world map projection consisting of different triangles and quadrangles. Its northern hemisphere lies at its center, with Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia stretching towards the left hand side of the map, and America and Antarctica stretching towards the right hand side of the map.
Dymaxion compromise projection (1954) by Buckminster Fuller. The map heavily incorporates empty spaces, among others, to minimize shape and size distortions. (© Buckminster Fuller Institute)

Understanding Mercator

An antique world map projection with the shape similar to two hearts, their bottoms meeting at the center of the map. The left heart portrays the northern hemisphere as seen from above, while the right heart portrays the southern hemisphere as seen from below.
Mercator’s first world map (1538). Its shape was adapted from the French mathematician and cartographer Oronce Finé, who introduced it less than a decade prior. (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)
An antique rectangular world map projection showing America on the left hand side, while Europe, Africa and Asia on the right. Some parts of the seas, the southernmost section of the map, as well as the sparsely drawn North America are covered by panels of texts and inlets.
Mercator’s avant-garde world map (1569). It serves as the foundation of the modern Mercator projection. (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)

Straightening li(n)es

A rectangular world map projection zoomed in on Africa. The equator is shown at the center of the image. A replica of Morocco and South Africa are superimposed on the equator, both having smaller size compared to on the map projection.
The actual size of Morocco (red) and South Africa (blue) compared to on the Mercator projection. Both are roughly 10% smaller than their Mercator counterparts. (© The True Size Of …)
An antique circle-shaped world map projection. At its center is North Pole, with the northern hemisphere stretching south towards the borders of the circle.
World map by Italian cartographer Urbano Monti (1587). Many projections by European cartographers in the Middle Ages do not portray Europe at its center. (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)
An antique pseudocylindrical world map projection showing America on the left hand side, while Europe, Africa and Asia on the right.
Typus Orbis Terrarum (1570), a world map projection by Abraham Ortelius. It suggests four large islands constituting the North Pole and an enormous continent at its South Pole. (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)

Choosing wisely

An antique world map projection with the shape of a heart. Near the center top is the North Pole, with America stretching south on the left hand side, and Europe, Africa and Asia on the right, both following the curve of the heart.
The Stab-Werner projection, a world map projection developed by Johann Stabius, later revised by Johannes Werner. Here illustrated by Oronce Finé (1536) (Public domain property, via Wikimedia Commons)
Equal Earth (2018), an equal area projection specifically invented as a “visually pleasing” alternative to the Gall-Peters projection. It has a physical terrain version and political territory version. (Public domain property, via Equal Earth Wall Map)

Exploring the human limitations and tendencies from everyday objects and events. Publishes irregularly.