Leave it to a graphic image to impart upon us today’s geography lesson. Many of us already know that world maps are often based upon the Mercator projection which grossly distorts the relative sizes of countries. The size of northern-hemisphere countries like Canada, the USA, and Europe are exaggerated while the size of countries clustered around the equator are diminished.
Recently Kai Krause, a well-known innovator in the GUI design community, produced an illustration, The True Size of Africa, which includes the above map. In it he discusses the problems of illiteracy and “immappancy”, a new term he coined which means “insufficient geographical knowledge”. Krause’s illustration also presents other graphic images as well as a lot of related numerical information such as the square kilometers of the 100 largest countries and a table which numerically shows what his map visually depicts.
There’s nothing more powerful that a good graphic to viscerally instill in us what we intellectually know. Check out this high resolution image of his illustration.