Is there evidence that the Mercator Projection map leads to real European colonial tendencies?

The Politicus
Dec 27, 2012 03:07 PM 0 Answers
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The classic Mercator Projection has been around since 1569 as a sailing map. However, in order to represent lines of constant course for sailing vessels as straight lines on the map, the areas around the poles were significantly exaggerated, while the areas around the equator are relatively smaller than they are in reality. As a result, the map accurately represents the shapes of various planetary features (continents, oceans, etc.) but appears proportionally much different than reality.

Mercator Projection

In an attempt to solve this issue, a different projection, the Gall-Peters Projection, was developed in the 20th century to maintain fidelity of proportion as well.

Gall-Perters Projection

Proponents of the Gall-Peters map suggest that an unintended consequence of the classic Mercator projection is to reinforce European colonial tendencies because it exaggerates the size of western countries like those in Europe and the United States while vastly under-sizing, specifically, the continent of Africa.

Is there any evidence for the assertion that there is a correlation between the prevalence of the Mercator projection and the strength of European colonial tendencies? Is the claim statistically significant and if so, has there been any country that has sought to adopt the Gall-Peters Projection for official use (specifically in education)?

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  • December 27, 2012