World Maps: 11 different projections to represent Earth

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Depending on where we observe Earth, its angle is not always the same.  Over centuries, creating a world map has not been an easy affair… Here are some different perceptions of the world according to cartographers over the years. 

Humans have always wanted to represent their world.  Today there are many ways to map the world.  Some are very useful and still being used today to give us a perspective of our world.  While some cartographers try to respect reality, others over estimate real distances and surface areas.  Here is a selection of 11 world maps over the years so you can see for yourself.

1/ Mercator projection – 1569

The Mercator projection is the most used map of the world.  It is the type of map that you are shown at school.  It makes the northern hemisphere look larger than in reality.  The Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator created this map.  Thanks to his marine precision this map is commonly distributed around the world.  That being said, the the map deforms some distances by a growing distortion in which the equator stretches towards the poles (equal surfaces between Africa and Greenland.)

cartographie du monde Mercator
Photo credit: Wikipedia

2/ Peters projection- 1855

This is this most realistic projection.  In reality Africa is much bigger than what appears on the Mercator projection.

Cartographie du monde projection Peters
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3/ Mollweide/Babinet projection – 1805/1857

The Babinet or Mollweide projection represents an elliptic and almost cylindrical map.  This map keeps the surfaces and the angles.  It is used to produce globes on small surfaces.  This map was presented by Carl Brandon Mollweide as an alternative to the Mercator projection.  The Frenchman Jacques Babinet then popularised the use of this map.

cartographie du monde Babinet
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4/ Van Der Grinten projection – 1904

The Van Der Grinten projection is a map of the world that is neither equal nor consistent.  In contrast to perspective projections, it is created in a geometric and arbitrary manner.  Van der Griten projects the entire Earth in a circle by conserving the Mercator projections in the most part and by reducing its distortion.  These are the polar regions which are greatly distorted.

cartographie du monde Van der Grinten
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5/ Gauss-Krüger projection – 1822

Also known as Universal Transverse Mercator Projection, this is a cylindrical world map that is consistent with the Earth’s surface. The cylinder’s axis crosses the axis of the poles perpendicularly. The polar zones are not theoretically covered by this mapping, although the cylinder is tangent to the poles.

cartographie du monde Traverse Mercator
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6/ Ecker VI projection – 1906

The Eckert IV projection represents the world in a pseudo-cylindrical way and of equal surface. This map of the world was created by Max Eckert in 1906. The length of the polar line is half the line of the equator, and that of the longitude is half elliptical.

cartographie du monde Ecker IV
Photo credit: Wikipedia