An Animated Mercator Projection That Reveals the Actual Size of Countries Around the World

World Projection Actual Size Animation

Climate data scientist and interactive mapmaker Neil Kaye has brilliantly animated the difference between the size of countries represented on the Mercator Map and the true land layout of each country.

Because the Mercator Map distorts land size in accordance with increased distance from the Equator, countries like Greenland, Russia, Canada and the United States look so much larger than much of the rest of the world.

The final state of the animation is associated to its correct square mileage. I calculated this by taking the area of each country polygon in the Mercator projection (MA), and the true area (TA), then I did: 1 / sqrt (MA/TA) So Greenland for example is scaled to be 0.25 the size of Mercator original, which makes it 16 times smaller than shown in Mercator projection! I then resized it at the centroid of each country” As has been pointed out for large countries like Russia, the top of the country should be shrunk more than the bottom, I have not done this. However, the true area of each country is correctly scaled. To give perspective, Greenland is actually the same size as Saudi Arabia.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.