GIF Comparing the Maps and Actual Sizes of Countries

You may have heard that the world map commonly used today is incorrect, that countries are actually smaller than they appear on the map. The current form of mapping, called the Mercator projection, makes northern countries appear larger and southern countries smaller.


As you know, the Earth has a spherical shape called a geoid. The main reason why two-dimensional maps are inaccurate is that it is impossible to accurately transfer a three-dimensional sphere to a two-dimensional surface. So how erroneously does the Mercator projection show the land on Earth? The GIF below illustrates this very clearly.

mercator vs truesize

Countries in the north such as Canada, the United States, and Russia are shown almost 5 times larger than they are with the Mercator projection. This is because as you move from the equator to the poles, the surface width narrows, while the Mercator projection continues to rise in a rectangular fashion.

To understand how big/small the Mercator projection shows countries, you can examine the comparison below. Greenland to the north looks considerably larger than Mexico in the Mercator projection. In reality, when their sizes are brought together, it is seen that the two have similar landmass.


So how wrong does the Mercator projection show the map of Turkey? Compared to European countries, Turkey is very close to the equator, so we can say that the area it covers on the map is very close to its actual size. Moreover, some European countries, which appear to have a larger continental area than Turkey in the Mercator projection, are actually smaller than Turkey.

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