The Mediterranean Sea is really big | Why we are surprised

Wow.  This really caught us flat-footed.  The relative size of the Mediterranean Sea and Baltic Sea when superimposed over a map of North America, placing names over familiar locations, covers nearly the entire continent.  Why did this surprise us?  The answer lies in our subconscious.

us-v-africa
Relative size of USA to African Continent

Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator, in 1569, designed maps to assist in navigation for European sailors by enlarging the poles to create straight lines across the oceans.  This dramatically distorts the relative size of the nations and continents as they approach the poles.

Even though we may all know that Greenland and Africa are not the same sizes, the Mercator Projection has created a Euro-centric geographical bias that many argue devalues the third world since we are conditioned to think that bigger is better.

Over the centuries, cartographers have accounted for the Mercator distortion but it is still used to teach geography across the world and it is also the standard for all web-based mapping apps including Google, Bing, and MapQuest.

You can check out the real sizes of our things here.

 

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