What is the TRUE, TRUE size of AFRICA?
About 12 years ago a map by Kai Krausse grabbed attention for displaying the “true size of Africa” in an eye-catching way to illustrate comparative geographies. At first glance, it shows how large Africa actually is in comparison to other familiar shapes such as the outline of the United States of America.
Kenneth Field recreated the map and got slated for being a marauding carto-nerd.
Why? Read on…and let me know your thoughts.
On closer inspection, there are some aspects of Krausse’s info-graphic that undermine its attempt to portray the relationship between the land area of various countries.
The Republic of Ireland is included in the United Kingdom map; an odd collection of countries are labeled Eastern Europe; China and India are bizarrely carved up for artistic purposes (to make them fit), and Alaska is omitted altogether which reduces the land area of the United States considerably.
Krause’s work also includes a different set of countries from those presented in the accompanying table. Indeed, the table identifies a set of countries that, combined have a land area equivalent to Africa to show the basis for comparison so it’s confusing as to why the map doesn’t portray the same countries.
Approximately 45% of Africa is comprised of the uninhabitable Sahara Desert which also renders the comparison a little misleading and certainly points to a further issue: that land area isn’t the best metric for comparison anyway because we might be more concerned as a society with what constitutes habitable areas.
Africa is certainly bigger than the combination of the countries Krause uses but it is a continent of over 50 countries and has a smaller overall population than either India or China. It’s so much smaller than you can add the population of the world’s third most populous country (USA) to Africa to approach the population total of China.
The African potential is huge!