“Africa is just simply huge – much, much bigger than we all thought!,” says designer Kai Krause. “You just look at it, understand and smile, because you can never forget it.” With his graphic representation The True Size of Africa, Krause aims to visualize this insight.
First presented in 1569, the Mercator projection is the reason behind the chronic underestimation of the size of the African continent; this standard is used to portray the Earth in atlases and on classroom posters all over the world, and is regularly used as a reference image by the majority of international news outlets. It is, however, fundamentally flawed, causing the size of landmasses near the poles to become larger than they really are, and those near the equator to become much smaller than in reality. While merely one of many map projections available, the Mercator projection was internationally adapted since it allowed the depiction of lines of constant course, a great advantage for European explorers and commercial travellers of the Renaissance and modern age. It also gave Europe a larger size and prominent position in the globe, a side effect that was, at the time, happily accepted. In The True Size of Africa, the countries that Krause uses to construct this magnitude relation are unfamiliar to western eyes, but were not selected at random; instead, the designer makes clever use of references to geopolitical structures and processes
on the continent.