Tag Archives: West Wing

Constructing the world: the Mercator map vs the Peters projection

Here are some useful resources for teaching geopolitics, political geography and constructivism, using the Mercator projection (the standardised map that we’re all pretty used to) and showing how far its representation of the world distorts our understanding of that very same world.

The Economist have produced this fantastic map of Africa, with other states mapped on top, to illustrate just how much bigger it is than we think and are used to.

It uses work done by a ‘computer graphics guru’ Kai Krause in his crusade against ‘immappanacy’ (poor geographical knowledge).. (new favourite word of the month?)

Of course all 2D maps have to be somewhat distorted (as they are representing a 3D globe), but the Mercator projection is one of the worst offenders in terms of distorting the relative size of countries. Another great resource for illustrating this is the classic video clip from the West Wing, where White House press secretary CJ meets with cartographers to discuss changing the maps used in US education: