Landmass Perspectives

Greenland Australia Madagascar

The other day, I was chatting with a friend who originally came from Sri Lanka.  A part of the discussion focused on how modern mapping tools have created the wrong perceptions about different countries and landmasses.  This blog is just sharing the story of that discussion.

The first part of the story has to do with the perception of the sizes of different land masses.  The best example to illustrate this is Greenland.
Now Greenland is a massive island, but projection issues has created the concept in people’s minds that it is really massive. Even if you know that the (Mercator) projection distorted it, you don’t really know how big it is relative to other Land Masses. The image on the right was created by grabbing the three landmasses from Google Maps at the exact same zoom level. Notice how Australia fits right into Greenland. And Madagascar almost disappears. Yet we know that
• Australia is about 7,692,024 km2
• Greenland is about 2,166,086 km2
• Madagascar is about 587,041 km2

In the next graphic we used a more appropriate projection to show the land masses in correct perspective.  Note how Greenland’s shape is completely different but the proportions are correct.  Greenland is only about four times bigger than Madagascar.

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