The most popular map projection, Mercator’s projection, was developed by a Flemish cartographer and originally used as a nautical chart to aid European explorers.
The map features straight lines representing a constant course but contributed greatly to a size distortion of the African continent, making it appear much smaller than it actually is.
Mercator’s projection map is still considered the world map, used in classrooms, books and even Google Maps.
The Gall-Peters equal projection map gives the correct proportion of land mass of the continents.
The continent of Africa is actually as large as the United States of America, China, India, Japan and all of Europe combined. You can fit North America into Africa and still have room for India, Argentina, Tunisia and more.
Actual Size of Greenland
Although the widely used Mercator map would lead you to believe Africa and Greenland are comparable in size, Greenland is 1/14th of the size of Africa.
Madagascar (land area 587.041 km squared) is double the size of the United Kingdom (242.900 km squared).
Mysterious African Interior
Seventeenth century European mapmakers “filled in the gaps” of the unexplored African interior with animals and plants they thought might reside in this exotic world.
European explorers only skirted around the coast of Africa while the interior remained a mystery.
17th Century Map
The maps of Africa drawn by 17th century Western cartographers symbolically reinforced Europeans’ sense of control over the continent.
Africa was a place to be divided and conquered, rather than understood and respected.
Islamic World View
Historically, in Islamic maps, the Southern Hemisphere was on top, causing Africa to sit above North America and Europe, altering the orientation of the map and simultaneously the world view.
Europe Compared to Africa
The nations that once colonized Africa – Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Spain – have a combined land area of less than 1.5 percent of Africa’s total land area.