Not to sound like a tabloid newspaper, but did you know the world map is incorrect?
We currently use the ‘Mercator’ map created by Flemish cartographer and geographer Geradus Mercator (ingenious naming there) in 1569. Firstly, one thing that sways the map is that it was created for nautical purposes – essentially to help navigation on the sea as it was useful to represent lines of true constant direction. However, this suggests that it was made for an alternative purpose and not just for pure practical observation.
When we look closer into the world map, the inaccuracies lie in the land mass proportion – it purposefully makes European and American land masses seem a lot bigger than it is presented. For example, South America should be twice the size of Europe in its entirety. So, why has this occurred? It all boils back to our fun friend ‘colonialism’. Wealthy countries could ‘enhance’ and flex their significance on the world map, making them appear to be more much threatening and powerful than other continents in the Global South. So, even to this day, there are threads of imperialist persuasion that we a taught from a young age – Google Maps still uses the Mercator map.
But all is not lost! Although the world map can never be completely accurate, many cartographers aim to create a much more proportionate map. Japanese Architect Hajime Narukawa invented the Authagraph in 1999, making a three-dimensional globe divided into 96 triangles. How is that for fun facts? I realise not everyone will agree, but it is a wildly fascinating fact to me. I like the way my subjects have made me want to question the structure of everything and develop a deeper understanding of the world.
– Hannah (Third Year, English and History)