One of the curious features of our world is the way in which its land surface is concentrated in the northern hemisphere. This disproportion is exaggerated by perhaps the most familiar of traditional world maps — Mercator’s projection. On this projection, which has been invaluable for navigational purposes, the lines of longitude and latitude intersect at right angles. However, a degree of longitude shrinks relative to a degree of latitude the further you get away from the Equator and the nearer you get to the Poles. To present a grid of this sort on paper as a rectangle, you have to increase the scale of measurement of latitude as you get nearer the Poles. The effect of this distortion is greatly to increase the apparent size of countries far away from the Equator, thus much reducing the relative size of those countries near it. The distortion is of much less significance in the southern hemisphere as there is little land at higher latitudes. But it is another matter in the northern hemisphere. Anyone looking at a Mercator’s projection of the world would not guess that Africa is as large as Canada and Russia combined.
KeywordsSecurity Council Monetary Union European Economic Community Maastricht Treaty European Economic Area
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