The National Geographic Society, painting “a more realistic view of the world,” today unveiled a new world map that depicts the continents in different proportion, shrinking the size of the United States.
“It’s not every day you can change the world, but that’s what we’re doing today,” National Geographic spokesman Robert Sims told a news conference.
Since 1922 the society has used world maps that rely on a system developed by American engineer Alphons van der Grinten. But Gilbert Grosvenor, the president of the society, said the new map better meets the age-old challenge of portraying “a round Earth on flat paper.”
It is impossible to produce a flat map that does not distort the size, shape, distance or direction of various land masses. Van der Grinten’s, for example, depicts Greenland 554% larger than it is, the Soviet Union 223% larger and the United States 68% larger.
The new map, by cartographer Arthur Robinson, portrays Greenland only 60% larger than it is, the Soviet Union just 18% bigger and depicts the United States about 3% smaller than its actual size.