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The proper geographic representation of the African Union is found on very few maps. Moreover it is generally distorted in size relative to other regions of the world, making it appear much smaller than it really is. It is better to use maps such as the Hobo-Dyer Map and the Peters Projection Map, instead of the obsolete Mercator Projection Map. The Peters Map is an equal area map, and shows all areas - whether countries, continents or oceans - according to their actual size. Moreover the Peters Map allows for accurate comparisons because it is an equal axis map. All North-South lines run vertical on this map. Thus, geographic points can be seen in their precise directional relationship and all East-West Lines run parallel. Thus the relationship of any point on the map to its distance from the equator or the angle of the sun can readily be determined.

Peters Projection: Area Accurate Map

See: ODT website

The conventional conception of the map of Africa is particularly problematic. On most world maps Africa is shown to be much smaller relative to other lands than it actually is. This has major implication in terms of the importance of Africa in most people's minds.

The Mercator Map was convenient, psychologically and practically, through the eras of colonial domination when most of the world powers were European. It suited them to maintain an image of the world with Europe at the center and looking much larger than it really was. Was this conscious or deliberate? Probably not, as most map users probably never realized the Eurocentric bias inherent in their world view. When there are so many other projections to chose from, why is it that today the Mercator projection is still such a widely recognized image used to represent the globe? The answer may be simply convention or habit. The inertia of habit is a powerful force.

Obsolete: Mercators' Africa compared to Greenland
Greenland: 0.8 million sq. miles


African Mainland: 11.6 million sq. miles

The Mercator projection creates increasing distortions of size as you move away from the equator. As you get closer to the poles the distortion becomes severe. Cartographers refer to the inability to compare size on a Mercator projection as "the Greenland Problem." Greenland appears to be the same size as Africa, yet Africa's land mass is actually fourteen times larger. Because the Mercator distorts size so much at the poles it is common to crop Antarctica off the map. This practice results in the Northern Hemisphere appearing much larger than it really is. Typically, the cropping technique results in a map showing the equator about 60% of the way down the map, diminishing the size and importance of the countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

See Maps of Colonial Occupation