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Jenny Martinez

Eng 212
2/8/2015
According to Reynolds, contested spaces and mental mapping “represent complex
relationships between social and spatial (Reynolds). The map of Africa, although most people do
not notice it, has some obvious flaws to it. It is the size of multiple countries put together, but
does not have the ranking or superiority other countries bear over it. So why is it that this country
is given such slack and is looked down upon when, in fact, it is vastly empowering over other
countries? This problem is not only found on the map scaling of Africa, because other counties
are facing the same problem. The question that remains is to why nothing is being done about it?
Digging deep, there are many reasons behind this majorly overlooked conspiracy.

Africa, which spans the equator, fares particularly badly on these sorts of projections:
Krause says, "Africa is so mind-numbingly immense, that it exceeds the common assumptions
by just about anyone I ever met: it contains the entirety of the USA, all of China, India, as well
as Japan and pretty much all of Europe as well - all combined!” (Luntz, 2015). This simple fact,
that Africa is surpasses the size of these high-ranking countries but is less developed determines
a complicated social system, and bears huge underlying circumstances.
Because of the recent outburst of Ebola in Africa, people assume that the entire country
had the virus. The country covers more than 11.67 million square miles, so the likelihood of it

Jenny Martinez
Eng 212
2/8/2015
spreading over the entire continent is nearly impossible. According to the National Geographic,
“in West Africa, Ebola has killed more than 4,900 people, with more than 13,700 cases reported,
almost all in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization.” But
there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in East Africa or in most of the continent. "People
are being a little bit unreasonable—they are treating Ebola like the modern version of the
plague," says Julia Jacobo of Cook Travel, the New York-based agency that booked the trip.
"People do not want to go to Africa at all. They do not distinguish East Africa from West Africa,
even though it is a gigantic continent" (Stone, 2014).
Comparing the United States verses Africa, it is hard to imagine that the US has more
government types than Africa: Constitutional, Federal, Presidential, and Republic, compared to
their one Republic. Africa’s term length is one year longer than ours and have a smaller
Legislature size, theirs having 45 less representatives than us, seems to be overlooked
considering the size in square miles verses size in the amount of people.

Jenny Martinez
Eng 212
2/8/2015
The distortion of a traditional globe compared to a standard map is utterly incorrect. The
earth is round. The challenge of any world map is to represent a round earth on a flat surface.
There are literally thousands of map projections. Each has certain strengths and corresponding
weaknesses ("The true size," 2013).

().
The Mercator projection is a tool that was invented for the purposes of navigation. It
utilizes what it known as “cylindrical map projection.” It is rectangular, and the lines of latitude
and longitude are all parallel. This means that they represent constant compass bearing. The
Mercator map has always been a poor projection for a world map because it represents directions
for navigation, not realistic representations of size. Africa is only seen as a fraction of the size it
is in comparison to other countries. A few major misconceptions based on this map: Alaska is

Jenny Martinez
Eng 212
2/8/2015
nearly as large as the continental U.S. Greenland is roughly the same size as Africa.

One of the best alternatives to the Mercator projection was presented in 1974 at a
conference in Germany by Dr. Arno Peters, who claimed he invented it — though well after the
discovery of an identical map made by James Gall in the 1800s. The Gall-Peters projection
makes seeing the relative size of places much easier. Notably, this version comes closer to
showing that what we perceive as land mass in the "South" is nearly twice as big as the "North"
— 38.6 million square miles compared to 18.9 million square miles. The Mercator, however,
makes the North look much larger. Therefore, Peters argued, the Mercator projection shows a
euro-centric bias and harms the world's perception of developing countries. (Sterbenz, 2013)
According to Harley, “Some of the practical implications of maps may also fall into the
category of what Foucault has defined as acts of ‘surveillance’19 --- notably those connected
with warfare, political propaganda, boundary making, or the preservation of law and order”

Jenny Martinez
Eng 212
2/8/2015
(Harley, 1988). In short, this means that people with higher power get to determine which
countries and areas of land seem more important, simply due to their visible physical land mass.
Access to maps is no longer confined to small western elite. And mapmaking no longer
seems so ideologically charged, but far more scientific and technical. Although no map is
completely objective and every cartographer has to make countless decisions over what is more
important and what is less so. In today's maps, Africa arguably gets as rough a deal as it always
has. Now as ever, the continent may not look like we think it does.
Although there is much debate and outrage as to how Africa is misrepresented there are
few answers to the many questions proposed as to how and why this is such a problem. These
questions lack the information that leads to even more questions, such as why is this important
matter being so overlooked? The simplest answer is that tradition wins over every logical
question. The world map has been set that way for years, and will be this way for years to come.
References
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.worldmapsonline.com/images/lesson-plans/wm5a.gif
Harley, J. B. (1988). The iconography of landscapre. DOI:
file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/HarleyMapKnowledgePower.pdf
Luntz, S. (2015, Jan 4). This is the true size of africa. Retrieved from
http://www.iflscience.com/environment/africas-size-perspective
Sterbenz, C. (2013, Dec 12). The most popular map of the world is highly misleading. Retrieved

Jenny Martinez
Eng 212
2/8/2015
from http://www.businessinsider.com/mercator-projection-v-gall-peters-projection-201312
Stone, A. (2014, Nov 1). Tourism falling off in africa, far beyond the ebola zone. Retrieved from
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/11/141101-ebola-travel-africa-tourismworld-health-medicine/
The true size of africa. (2013, Apr 8). Retrieved from
http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/04/the-true-size-of-africa-erroneous-map.html