# Gall-Peters projection

Is the GPP a more accurate map of the world than the one most people are used to.

It depends on what you mean by “accurate”. The Gall–Peters projection is supposed to give a better representation of the size of countries than the more common Mercator projection. On the other hand, it still has a lot of the same problems that the Mercator does in that it doesn’t represent great circle traveling routes as the shortest, and it completely mangles everything near the poles.

There is no one best map. There are a lot of common types and most of them are better than others at whatever they are trying to accomplish. The Wener projection, for example, gives a better representation of distances than the Gall–Peters projection. But if you look at the Werner it’s a funny heart-shaped thing that isn’t so useful for visualizing countries, which is what the Gall–Peters was designed for.

Also I was wondering whether it’s true that the earths shape isn’t completely spherical but rather squashed.

Yes it is true (as has been known since Isaac Newton’s time), but I do not think the squashing is enough to matter very much when you are making a world map.

It is a bit squashed, but in the grand scheme of things if you scaled the earth down to cue ball size it would be close enough to round that it would pass the official billiard specs for roundness.

As the Wikipedia entry explains pretty well, professional cartographers (like myself) get a bit exasperated by the overblown claims made for Gall-Peters. Many, many projections do a better job of preserving both size and shape of continents.

Every map projection has its pros and cons, and so the best map for each application depends on what you want the map for. The Gall-Peters enthusiasts do have a point that the Mercator projection is often used in contexts where it isn’t a particularly good choice, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always a bad choice. For example, it’s the only logical choice for Google Maps, due to its particular features.

Furthermore, the Gall-Peters projection is almost never the best choice: It does have some benefits over Mercator, but there are others that have those same advantages and more: The only things Gall-Peters has going for it are that it preserves area, and it’s easy to mathematically derive. But there are plenty more maps that also preserve area, and which are also much better at preserving shapes. The only legitimate use for Gall-Peters that I know of is in a textbook about different map projections.

You’d think that anyone who’s geeky enough to have even heard of G-P would be aware of its shortfalls.

What are your personal favorites?

My understanding is that Gall-Peters is exceptionally popular among a certain group of individuals who believe that the dominance of the Mercator projection is due to a conspiracy (conscious or unconscious) to make Europe and the U.S. appear bigger on maps and minimize Africa, South America, and India, because of cultural imperialism.

You know, cranks.

I actually don’t do all that many small-scale projects, so I tend to fall back on Robinson. Sometimes I’ll use a trio of orthographic projections showing various parts of the globe. Winkel Tripel gets a lot of attention lately. But as a Class A geek, I’m still looking for the opportunity to use Dymaxion—which I utterly baffled my 9th Grade World History teacher with.

Everything you need to know.
Ok, maybe not, but it’s everything I know.

Is there a name for a projection that’s peeled apart like the Goode-Homolosine, but which preserves area? That’s what I favor, but you never seem to see that.

Yeah, whenever you project a globe onto a plain in some manner, you get distortion.

Remember, Mercator did not set out to prove the inherent greatness of the white master race. A Mercator projection has the benefit that a straight line is a constant compass heading across the map - so it’s ideal for medium-range navigation. It also minimizes the distortion near the area that touches the globe - the equator in a traditional Mercator.

In fact, for local geological surveys, the folks I ran across used UTM - Universal transverse Mercator. instead of projecting from the equator, they projected onto a cylinder wrapped around the globe at a convenient line of longitude (hence “Transverse”) Local maps done within a few degrees of the major transverse had very little distortion, no matter what latitude.

If your interest lay in more accurate larger distances, in the temperate and higher latitudes a conical projection was probably most useful, eh? (Da?) For global maps, you takes your pick depending on your purpose. that’s why we have so many choices.

If you want relatively equal area, minimal distortion and minimal stretch, my money’s on the Goode-Homoloscene map.

I found the Peters map did a nice job of looking sufficiently familiar (Mercator-like) and different at the same time. and after I saw it, I found that I did agree with the premise that for geopolotical discussions, it preserves the important elements of who is bigger, who is smaller, and who neihbors whom.

It’s not like I ever navigated with my old Mercator map. Also, I hate cut up maps!