Africa is massive—30.22 million square kilometers, in fact. It can easily swallow up the whole of Europe; it’s the second-largest continent in the world. Yet the familiar Mercator map does not actually reflect this reality.
In early 2013, James Talmage and Damon Maneice, two computer developers in Detroit, created an interactive map that shows the relative expanse of nations and continents. Partly inspired by the designer Kai Krause’s map “The True Size of Africa,” and an episode of The West Wing, TheTrueSize.com shows how distorting the Mercator-map projections are.
How does the tool work? You enter a name of a country and then drag that country on to your desired geographical point of comparison; the tool will adjust the country’s borders to reflect its true relative size. For example, the map below shows the size of Africa in relation to China and the U.S. Look at how the two biggest economies in the world can both be swallowed by the continent with room to spare.
Or look at Germany: Once a colonial power that presided over a swath of East Africa, it is actually half the size of Tanzania.
The True Size map points out that Mercator projections suggest Greenland is roughly the same size size as Africa. The mind-blowing reality is that the continent is 14.5 times bigger than Greenland.