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(Catrographical) Size Matters

You can fit 14 Greenlands into Africa. That’s a fact.

Yet on most maps, including Google’s Maps service, Greenland appears a gargantuan behemoth. A continental mass that dwarfs India, and in some particularly offensive cases, the entirety of South America. In all its wisdom Google seems to believe Greenland has more fjords than an Amazonian canoeist could ever navigate.

Sure, back in times of old the likes of England, France, and Spain would compete to display their realms as the largest on their state-produced maps. However, in a world orbited by satellites, it’s become harder to pull this off.

The modern superpower equivalents do try though. According to the CIA World Factbook, the United States has continued to expand rapidly since 1997. The addition of inland waters, coastal waters, and territorial waters to the ‘official’ count of squared kilometres has cunningly seized China’s title of third largest country.

Maps are a matter of perspective. Counter to popular belief in Norfolk, the Earth is a sphere, and does not translate perfectly on to a 2D map. The Mercator Projection used by Google is useful because it preserves the shapes of relative land masses, but at the expense of maintaining an accurate depiction of their respective areas. Conversely, the National Geographic’s own ‘Winkel Triple’ curves at the sides to compensate for the roundness of our planet, displaying more accurate continents.

Anyone wishing to reject Greenland’s map-imperialism should choose the latter for their cartography needs.

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