Africa is bigger than you probably think. Kai Krause, who is a software and graphical user interface designer, created this map showing the true size of Africa. Why didn’t we know this? We didn’t because most maps we see everyday use a Mercator projection, which allows our round globe to be shown on a flat map.
The Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator gave the world the Mercator projection, which was useful in navigating the seas, in 1569. You would need to see Earth’s continents with your own eyes, from space, to judge Africa’s true size. Or you might use a Dymaxion map, which lets you see the true size of Africa much more clearly.
The map above is a Dymaxion map, and it depicts Earth’s continents as “one island,” or nearly contiguous land masses. Cool, yes? R. Buckminster Fuller’s created it. His version of a round globe that fits on flat map – the Dymaxion map – first appeared in Life magazine in 1943.
By the way, Africa isn’t the biggest continent. Asia is.
#1 Asia – (44,579,000 sq km)
#2 Africa – (30,065,000 sq km)
#3 North America – (24,256,000 sq km)
#4 South America – (17,819,000 sq km)
#5 Antarctica – (13,209,000 sq km)
#6 Europe – (9,938,000 sq km)
#7 Australia/Oceania – (7,687,000 sq km)
Bottom line: Africa is bigger than you think. You can see its size on this infographic created by Kai Krause. Or you can see its size on a Dymaxion map, created by R. Buckminster Fuller.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.