The True Size: The site that fixes country sizes
Cartography is an ancient and nevertheless inexact science. History began in antiquity with the Greek Erastotenes, who first calculated the circumference of the earth and its radius. To do so, he compared the angle of incidence of the sun in Alexandria and Aswan, cities of Egypt. The result was unbelievable: 46, 100 kilometers in circumference.
Thousands of years ago, the guy managed to get close to the exact value we have today: 40, 000 km. It is evident that, so many years after this kickoff, cartography has undergone several changes and evolutions. However, since everything good is short-lived, its inaccurate science status was discovered by the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in the 19th century. According to him, it is impossible to represent a sphere on a completely flat sheet of paper - inevitably, distortions will happen.
The cartographic dilemma
Cartographers then had a dilemma to solve. They should choose which dimension to privilege: area, angle or distance of territories - because all three at the same time was not feasible.
Fortunately, science and technology are there to overcome even seemingly unbeatable challenges. The True Size has done what cartography has never been able to do: represent countries in the right proportion. After all, it is unacceptable that Greenland is larger than Brazil - as we see on maps during geography classes.
Those responsible for this project are James Talmage and Damon Maneice, who used one of the world's most famous 2D projections: Mercator's. This projection is cylindrical and was created by the Belgian Gerardus Mercator in 1569. The idea is that, to make a map, the planet Earth had to be "wrapped" in an imaginary cylinder.
In Mercator, country angles are conserved. But as latitude increases, the area of countries suffers distortions. In short, the closer to the North and South Pole, the larger the territories will be.
How to use the site "The True Size"?
First, access the site by clicking here. A Google Maps map will appear on your screen with a top right tab. Here you will enter the country you want to "distort". This country will be colored and you can move your mouse outline anywhere on the map.
You can apply this command to multiple countries at the same time, which still calculates the exact area of each of them. For example, we see in the image above a comparison between Brazil and Greenland. The actual size of each is respectively 8, 511, 000 km² and 2, 166, 000 km². However, due to the distortions that occur in Mercator's projection, Greenland appears to be 14 times larger than it actually is - when in fact it narrowly beats little Madagascar.