Eye-Opening “True Size Map” Shows the Real Size of Countries on a Global Scale

True Size Map

United States (blue), India (yellow), and China (orange)

When you picture a 2D representation of our world, what do you see? Chances are, you’re probably thinking of the Mercator map—a standard type of projection that’s been around since the late 16th century. Although it's useful for navigational purposes, the map is also misleading because the relative sizes of countries are inaccurately conveyed. Some places, such as Greenland, look huge on this type of chart, but in actuality are much smaller. The opposite is true for places like China.

To uncover these often-stark differences, the True Size Map was created—a interactive website that allows you to drag countries and continents around the Mercator projection and discover just how big they are (or aren’t). You can do this for any country by simply typing its name into the map, allowing for a seemingly endless amount of comparisons.

This exercise is an eye-opening look at how this map might have affected our view on the world—concerns that were raised as far back as the early 20th century. “People's ideas of geography are not founded on actual facts but on Mercator's map,” British cartographer G. J. Morrison warned in 1902. Since its creation, however, cartographers have produced other ways to visualize the globe. And now, with the power of technology, endeavors like the True Size Map are also helping to change our size perceptions.

Here's how the United States compares to countries around the world:

True Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size Map

This is what China looks like on different parts of the map:

True Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size Map

And the United Kingdom:

True Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size MapTrue Size Map: Website
h/t: [Kottke]

This article has been edited and updated.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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