Our world maps are WRONG: Incredible 'to scale' graphic reveals Russia, Canada and Greenland are not as big as you think (3 Pics)

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Take a look at a world map and you’re likely to think that North America and Russia are both larger than Africa.
But in reality Africa is three times bigger than North America and significantly larger than Russia too.
This strange distortion has been explored by a climate data scientist at the Met Office who has created a two dimensional representation of what the world really looks like.
His incredible map that shows that many countries - including Russia, Canada and Greenland - are not nearly as big as we think.
The world map distortion is the result of the Mercator projection, the map most commonly seen hanging in classrooms and in text books, which was created in 1596 to help sailors navigate the world.
Take a look at a world map today and you’re likely to think that North America and Russia are both larger than Africa. This strange distortion has been revealed by a climate data scientist who has created a two dimensional representation of what the world really looks like (pictured)

The biggest challenge with creating an accurate map is that it is impossible to portray the reality of the spherical world on a flat map – a problem that has troubled cartographers for centuries.
As a result, shapes of world maps have typically been diverse, ranging from hearts to cones.
But the diversity gradually faded away with one model, invented by Gerardus Mercator in 1596, which surpassed the others.
The familiar 'Mercator' projection gives the right shapes of land masses, but at the cost of distorting their sizes in favour of the wealthy lands to the north.
Mr Neil Kaye, a climate data scientist at Met Office, created an accurate world map that shows countries near the northern hemisphere are much smaller than people typically think. 
He did this by inputting Met Office data on the sizes of each country into Ggplot, which is a data visualisation package for statistical programming.
He then created the final map using a sterographic projection. This is a mapping function that projects a sphere onto a plane.   
'There was then some manual tweaking of countries that are closer to the poles', wrote Mr Kaye on Reddit
'This demonstrates you can't fit shapes on a sphere back together again once you put them on the flat.'
The map was created by inputting data on the sizes of each country (right) and inputting it into Ggplot, which is a data visualisation package for the statistical programming
The familiar 'Mercator' projection (pictured) gives the right shapes of land masses, but at the cost of distorting their sizes in favour of the wealthy lands to the north

Mercator (5 March 1512 – 2 December 1594) was a Flemish cartographer famous for creating a world map based on a projection which showed sailing courses of as straight lines.
Unlike other geography scholars from around the same time as him, he did not travel much. 
Instead his knowledge of geography came from his library of over one thousand books and maps.
In the 1580s he began publishing his atlas, which he named after the giant holding the world on his shoulders in Greek mythology.
In the Mercator projection, North America looks at least as big, if not slightly larger, than Africa. 
And Greenland also looks of comparable size.
But in reality Africa is larger than both. 
In fact, you can fit north America into Africa and still have space for India, Argentina, Tunisia and some left over.
Greenland, meanwhile, is 1/14th the size of the continent as can be seen in Gall-Peters equal projection, which provides the correct proportion of land mass to the continents.
The map suggests that Scandinavian countries are larger than India, whereas in reality India is three times the size of all Scandinavian countries put together.
As well, as this, it seems the fact that our maps typically put north at the top is a mere convention but has been accepted as correct in most of the world. 

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