July 14, 2011, 10:23 pm
By Henry Woodbury
Scale is a kind of beauty. Here Kai Krause maps out the scale of the continent of Africa in comparison to a selection of the usual suspects:
Click through for full-size map, more data, and editorial content (whose thesis I find entirely unconvincing).
I’m more intrigued by the effectiveness of the visualization as an informational device. The juxtaposition is what matters, not the “true size”. If you mapped the true size of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America against the continent of North America the result would be entirely pointless.
What makes Krause’s map intriguing is the contrast between large countries and a continent comprised mostly of small ones. To make a North American map of equivalent interest I would replace the large land masses of Canada, the United States, and Mexico with numerous small countries (to reverse the conceit we could replace Central America with Madagascar — a number of small countries with one large). Thus, we learn about the size of the selected countries as well as the size of the continent.
How can I get a copy of this map?
Posted by Sally on October 24, 2012 at 5:55 am
This is a fantastic post but just to let you know that Ireland is not part of the ‘UK/United Kingdom’ and actually has an 800 year history of fighting for independence. (For a cursory glance over this history pleas see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_War_of_Independence). This diagram speaks volumes about colonialism and many would therefore find the inclusion of the Irish state in the UK rather ironic.
Posted by Sinead on April 5, 2013 at 2:38 am
Your geographic size determinism is no better than what we have today. I worked with Mandela in South Africa over 63 trips — and presently working in the West Bank.
The REAL differences have to do with layers/levels of complexity as well as capacities in various bioregions –I will challenge your basic assumption about social equality as if it really matters. It’s your thinking that produces the threats from North Korea and Iran. You need to go back to the drawing board. We are speaking at the UN the first week in June about all of this. Don Edward Beck, Ph D.
Posted by Dr Don Beck on April 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm
I think the part of the video that caught my attention most was the idea that North and South (top and bottom) really are arbitrary.
Posted by Mike Wertz on August 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm
How come the Republic or Ireland is included with the UK? If you just included Northern Ireland it would have fitted better into Madagascar.
Posted by Marcus Mansukhani on August 26, 2013 at 8:31 pm
The North and South could be on the sides as well. or caddy corner. You could even move them to the center. The Map is not the Territory.
Posted by Jes on September 24, 2013 at 10:05 pm
This is somewhat astounding… I think it affects me more, because what essentially hit me was that I genuinely thought China and America were “more” and Africa was “less” and therefore had less potential… Truth is I live right at the bottom of Africa, and this has opened my mind.
Posted by Amoon Jakoot on September 28, 2013 at 7:42 am
The video is genuinely intriguing. If the basic scales are even remotely accurate, it challenges many of our cherished assumptions about many countries and cultures we have deemed important or insignificant due to their relative position, land mass, resources and apparent intellectual contributions. What’s interesting and perhaps in question here is not only our reasons for ascribing significance or insignificance, but more importantly, our motives for maintaining a particular ‘belief system’ about the globe in the face of long known facts. Dr Martin Bernal (Chinese Scholar), addresses a similar dynamic in “Black Athena” and his examination of western civilizations long-held obsession with playing-down and obfuscating politically unpalatable truths.
Posted by Dr Paul Hunt on October 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm
Great post, I’ve shared this with people and I always get the same reaction as the two in the video. And with all due respect to Dr. Don Beck, you might be right but your writing is so obtuse I have no idea what you are saying. And I doubt Mr. Woodbury’s “thinking” is what produces the threats from North Korea and Iran. :-)
Posted by Jose on October 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Great post, I’ve shared this with people and I always get the same reaction as the two in the video. And with all due respect to Dr. Don Beck, you might be right but your writing is so obtuse I have no idea what you are saying. And I doubt Mr. Woodbury’s “thinking” is what produces the threats from any countries :-)
Posted by Jose on October 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm
Now place huge Alaska over tiny India.
Posted by D on October 29, 2013 at 6:28 am
I agree with Jose in that this Dr Don Beck is being obtuse and unnecessarily aggressive on a comment board (though I guess aggressivism is the culture). glad that more sites are catching on the whole “our map system has been producing worldwide social inequality” thing. watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8zBC2dvERM
Posted by Pierre on October 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm
To those banging on about the UK and Southern Ireland, firstly it looks to me like it’s a map of UK & the 6 counties and secondly, stop complaining about all that imperial hogwash, it’s dead and gone, so stop being so precious. Whatever way you cut it, the Republic of Ireland is considered to be art of the British Isles. Interesting map all the same.
Posted by John on October 30, 2013 at 4:01 am
Regardless of whether the Republic of Ireland is part of the British Isles, Madagascar is almost twice the size, the map should correctly reflect that.
Posted by Alex on October 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm
I don’t get it. Maps are just ways of trying to put a round object on a flat plane. If you want to know what the world looks like, USE A DAMN GLOBE!!!!!
Posted by Chris Brown on October 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Our maps produce social inequality? Why doesn’t make it’s own map then? Or use a globe? I think you guys are making a big deal out of nothing. When you try to draw a concave object onto a flat plane you have to cut corners. the fact that the people that cut those corners originally were European is not a secret. If you look at the latitude lines on your standard Mercator world map do you notice something strange as the lines move to the extreme north and extreme south? They get further apart don’t they? Why do you think this is? Illuminati conspiracy?
Posted by Chris Brown on October 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm
There should be a “Insert socially unequal country here” between doesn’t and make.
Posted by Chris Brown on October 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm
But aren’t the countries in this map collage still from the Mercator projection? If so, then the sizes are way off. . .
Posted by Martin Shellabarger on November 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm