The reason why certain countries looks bigger or smaller than others is because of something called the Mercator Projection. Putting a 3D planet on a two-dimensional map was something of a challenge for early cartographers and so a Flemish geographer and cartographer named Gerardus Mercator came up with a solution. In 1569 he designed a map that could be accurately used for navigation purposes, but the downside was that his system distorted the size of objects depending on their position relative to the equator. Because of this, landmasses like Antarctica and Greenland appeared much larger than they actually are.

To show how incorrect our understanding of country sizes is, a website called thetruesize.com lets you move landmasses into different locations. Bored Panda has played a bit on this site, and this is what we found.

#1

The US Could Easily Cover The Whole Of Canada But It Becomes Much Smaller When It's Moved South

The US Could Easily Cover The Whole Of Canada But It Becomes Much Smaller When It's Moved South

The True Size Report

#2

Buzzfeed: And if Canada is moved down to where the US is, it’s clear that they aren’t as dissimilar in size as most people think.

Buzzfeed: And if Canada is moved down to where the US is, it’s clear that they aren’t as dissimilar in size as most people think.

The True Size Report

#3

Buzzfeed: People often forget how big Australia is because it’s so far away from other land masses. Here’s what happens when you move it over Europe.

Buzzfeed: People often forget how big Australia is because it’s so far away from other land masses. Here’s what happens when you move it over Europe.

The True Size Report

#4

Alaska Doesn't Seem So Big When Compared To 48 Contiguous States

Alaska Doesn't Seem So Big When Compared To 48 Contiguous States

The True Size Report

#5

This Happens When You Move Australia To The North America

This Happens When You Move Australia To The North America

The True Size Report

#6

Texas Moved On Top Of Alaska Shows That They're Almost The Same Size

Texas Moved On Top Of Alaska Shows That They're Almost The Same Size

The True Size Report

#7

This Is How Tiny Romania Looks In The Arctic Ocean

This Is How Tiny Romania Looks In The Arctic Ocean

The True size Report

#8

Poland Is Almost As Half As Big As Greenland

Poland Is Almost As Half As Big As Greenland

The True size Report

#9

Antarctica Is Not So Much Larger Than Brazil

Antarctica Is Not So Much Larger Than Brazil

The True Size Report

#10

Canada Moved Down Onto The US Reveals That Both Countries Are Pretty Much The Same Size

Canada Moved Down Onto The US Reveals That Both Countries Are Pretty Much The Same Size

The True Size Report

#11

Buzzfeed: People often forget how big Australia is because it’s so far away from other land masses. Here’s what happens when you move it over Europe.

Buzzfeed: People often forget how big Australia is because it’s so far away from other land masses. Here’s what happens when you move it over Europe.

The True Size Report

#12

Australia Moved Onto North America Becomes REALLY Big

Australia Moved Onto North America Becomes REALLY Big

The True size Report

#13

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

The True size Report

#14

USA Compared To Europe

USA Compared To Europe

The True Size Report

#15

Russia On The Equator Is Not A Giant Bear Anymore

Russia On The Equator Is Not A Giant Bear Anymore

the true size Report

#16

Buzzfeed: It’s easy to understand why the UK not exactly used to warm weather

Buzzfeed: It’s easy to understand why the UK not exactly used to warm weather

The True Size Report

#17

California Moved Onto The UK Shows They're Quite Similar In Size

California Moved Onto The UK Shows They're Quite Similar In Size

The True Size Report

#18

This Is How India Changes As You Move It North

This Is How India Changes As You Move It North

The True Size Report

#19

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

The True size Report

#20

If Romania Was An Island In The Arctic Ocean

If Romania Was An Island In The Arctic Ocean

The True Size Report

#21

Poland Is Almost As Half As Big As Greenland

Poland Is Almost As Half As Big As Greenland

The True Size Report

#22

When You Move Canada To South America

When You Move Canada To South America

The True Size Report

#23

Buzzfeed: Because it’s so far north, the UK also benefits from the shortcomings of the Mercator projection.

Buzzfeed: Because it’s so far north, the UK also benefits from the shortcomings of the Mercator projection.

The True Size Report

#24

If Brazil Was In Asia It Would Be Massive

If Brazil Was In Asia It Would Be Massive

The True Size Report

#25

Moving UK North And South Reveals How It Actually Compares To Other Countries

Moving UK North And South Reveals How It Actually Compares To Other Countries

Report

#26

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

The True Size Report

#27

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

On The Map Greenland Looks Huge, But This Happens When You Move It On The Equator

The True Size Report

#28

Greenland Is Not So Big When Compared To USA And Brazil

Greenland Is Not So Big When Compared To USA And Brazil

The True Size Report

#29

US Moved Down Next To Australia Looks Unbelievably Small

US Moved Down Next To Australia Looks Unbelievably Small

The True Size Report

#30

True Size Of China As You Move It North

True Size Of China As You Move It North

The True Size Report

#31

Democratic Republic Of The Congo When You Move It North

Democratic Republic Of The Congo When You Move It North

The True Size Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#32

True Size Of China As You Move It North

True Size Of China As You Move It North

The True Size Report

#33

China Placed On Top Of Russia

China Placed On Top Of Russia

The True Size Report

#34

Tiny Iceland Compared To Its Giant Neighbor Greenland

Tiny Iceland Compared To Its Giant Neighbor Greenland

The True Size Report

#35

Australia Is Way Bigger Than You May Think - It Covers Almost The Whole Of Europe

Australia Is Way Bigger Than You May Think - It Covers Almost The Whole Of Europe

The True Size Report

#36

Buzzfeed: And Here’s What Happens When You Overlay The Five Largest Countries In Africa On Top Of The USA: 1. Libya 2. Democratic Republic of the Congo 3. Algeria 4. Chad 5. Sudan

Buzzfeed: And Here’s What Happens When You Overlay The Five Largest Countries In Africa On Top Of The USA: 1. Libya 2. Democratic Republic of the Congo 3. Algeria 4. Chad 5. Sudan

The True Size Report

#37

Indonesia Would Spread Almost Across The Whole Of Russia

Indonesia Would Spread Almost Across The Whole Of Russia

The True Size Report

#38

When You Move Mexico Onto Greenland Its Size Increases Dramatically

When You Move Mexico Onto Greenland Its Size Increases Dramatically

The True Size Report

#39

If Poland Was An Island In The Norwegian Sea

If Poland Was An Island In The Norwegian Sea

The True Size Report

#40

Buzzfeed: What Happens When You Place The 10 Largest Countries In The World Next To Each Other On The Equator

Buzzfeed: What Happens When You Place The 10 Largest Countries In The World Next To Each Other On The Equator

The True Size Report

#41

If Lithuania Was An Island In The Barents And Artic Oceans

If Lithuania Was An Island In The Barents And Artic Oceans

The True Size Report

See Also on Bored Panda
#42

Japan Can Stretch Almost Across Canada

Japan Can Stretch Almost Across Canada

The True Size Report

#43

If Lithuania Was An Island In The Barents Sea And Artic Ocean

If Lithuania Was An Island In The Barents Sea And Artic Ocean

The True Size Report

#44

Turkey Moved On Alaska

Turkey Moved On Alaska

The True Size Report

#45

How The Size Of Russia Changes As You Move It South

How The Size Of Russia Changes As You Move It South

The True Size Report

#46

#27 Tiny Iceland Compared To New York

#27 Tiny Iceland Compared To New York

Report

#47

Iceland From Norsaq Flight Gl 783 - Air Greenland 18.52.56

Iceland From Norsaq Flight Gl 783 - Air Greenland 18.52.56

Report

#48

How This All Works

How This All Works

Report

#49

Let Me Just Make This Easy; The Issue Is Peters (accurate) Vs Mercator (inaccurate).

Let Me Just Make This Easy; The Issue Is Peters (accurate) Vs Mercator (inaccurate).

Report

#50

You Cannot Make Legitimate Size Comparison Unless You Are Doing So On An Equal Area Map

You Cannot Make Legitimate Size Comparison Unless You Are Doing So On An Equal Area Map

Report