What does your world look like?
This look familiar?
Of course it does, it’s the Mercator Projection map – the World Map. Our world.
Except…that’s not what the world looks like.
In terms of a flat image, it actually looks a lot more like this…
This is a reverse-oriented Peter’s Projection Map. This provides an accurate land-mass ratio for each continent.
In other words, each country is its correct proportionate size in relation to all the other countries.
The more popular Mercator Projection map stretches out the continents which lie further towards the poles, making, for example, the USA look bigger than Greenland, when in actual fact Greenland has a land mass five times the size of America. Africa, too, lying as it does directly across the equator, gets a much more equal share of the map in the Peter’s Projection.
The other difference?
Well, there’s the Polar orientation. Now, stay with me, cause this is a tricky one to wrap your head around, at least it was for me….see, North isn’t actually up.
That’s right. Our globe is spinning in space. There is no actual top side. We just made an artibrary decide about which pole to make the default ‘top’ (and by we I mean some European cartographers and the American broadcasters who decided to flip the first images of the earth from space sent back by the astronauts before sending them to air for the public…).
So what if we flipped it around?
Does it change our perspective beyond just the visual?
And what does the land mass ratio do to the centre point? Well, Western Europe no longer even comes close. That definitely goes to Africa.
It may just be a map. But maps contextualise the way we think about our world, about countries, about power, about significance, about relevance.
There’s no one right map. But perhaps there are better ones than the one we are using…