The true size of Africa. Credit: Kai Krause

Ever wondered how big Africa really is? Well, it certainly is big, or rather “huge”. Africa is probably much larger than most people realize. And the German graphics designer Kai Krause made a fascinating illustration to illustrate just this; the immensity of the African continent relative to the rest of the world.

Mercator Projection

This brilliant illustration gives us a great idea of the scale difference compared to what is usually used as a world map, that is the “Mercator Projection”. The Mercator Projection of Earth was created by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569.

The Mercator projection of the world.

It became the standard map projection for nautical purposes because of its ability to represent lines of constant course. But the Mercator projection gives us a completely distorted scale of the size of different parts of the world.

Other Projections of Earth

The fact that the Earth is a sphere makes it difficult to create a flat map that also takes into accounts, size, shape, or both. Many different alternative versions of projections of the Earth has been presented during the years. A got debate took place during the 1970s regarding what projection should generally be used, as the Gall-Peters projection was suggested to succeed Mercator.

The Gall-Peters projection of the world map.Named after James Gall and Arno Peters, known as the cylindrical equal-area projection, it shows the real proportion of Earth. As it would appear from space.

The main problem is that most maps tend to exaggerate the size of the landmass and the countries at high latitudes and shrink those near the equator. Making Europe much larger than South America, or Greenland seem almost as massive as Africa.

Africa is especially affected by this since it spans the equator. As Krause states, “Africa is so mind-numbingly immense, that it exceeds the common assumptions by just about anyone I ever met: it contains the entirety of the USA, all of China, India, as well as Japan and pretty much all of Europe as well – all combined!”