Mapping Our Globe

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Our globe - our only planet - is arguably the most important topic in geography. We are privileged to live on this beautiful, varied planet, and to learn and teach about it. But in geography lessons we are so busy studying bits of the world, and specific aspects of geography, that we are in danger of losing the global vision. We really do need a new approach to understanding the world, the globe, our planet.

The shape of the globe is simple, but turning it into the flat world maps used in geography lessons involves some compromises. To flatten the curved surface we have to squeeze, or stretch, or twist or cut it. We can aim for a map that shows correct distances, or areas, or directions, or shapes or routes. But by showing one of these properties correctly, we inevitably show the rest wrongly.

This site looks at some of the basic principles of creating and using world maps, and the advantages of using equal-area world maps in learning geography.

  • Start with the Globe >>>
  • Mercator's map >>>
  • Why use equal-area maps? >>>
  • Choosing an equal-area map >>>
  • Key concepts about the globe >>>
  • Links and further reading >>>

  • Acknowledgements

    Text: David Wright
    Editing: John Hopkin

    David R. Wright BA MA was a lecturer in geographical education at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. The text for this area is adapted from Theory into Practice: Maps with Latitude (Geographical Association: 2000). He is also the co-author of Philip's Children's Atlas (11th edition 2005).

    View a sample of Maps with Latitude

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