Reading and Using Maps

Why does Greenland appear larger on most maps than it actually is?

Because of the distortions that must appear on all maps, many maps place the distortion in the northern and southern extremes of the Earth. In one of the common projections, known as Mercator, Greenland appears to be similar in size to South America, despite the fact that South America is actually eight times larger than Greenland. The advantage of the Mercator projection is that the lines of latitude and longitude remain perpendicular; thus the map is useful for navigation.


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