A nice summary from National Geographic (who better) on the misconceptions of the world’s geography because of distorted maps and our need for simple mental images.

For example, in reality:

  • Most of South America is east of Florida.
  • Most of Africa is north of the Equator.
  • Most of Europe is east of Canada, not the US.




Mercator maps are particularly egregious when it comes to imagining the relative size of places.

  • South America is eight times larger than Greenland
  • Brazil is larger than the contiguous US, and almost as big as Canada.
  • Alaska is smaller than Libya.


Full story here.







  1. A few other interesting ones from a Canadian point of view:
    * Toronto is at roughly the same latitude as Monaco.
    * Edmonton is about level with Hamburg, and south of Edinburgh.
    * Iqaluit is just south of Umeå in Sweden (which has a university with thirty thousand students, and a system of electric commuter trains).

    And, of course, everybody knows that the Canada-U.S. border follows the 49th parallel, despite a large portion of the Canadian population living well to the south of that line.

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