The reason why certain countries look bigger or smaller than others is that of something called the Mercator Projection. Putting a 3D planet on a two-dimensional world map was something of a challenge for early cartographers, and so a Flemish geographer and cartographer named Gerardus Mercator came up with a solution for the most accurate world map. In 1569 he designed an atlas 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 bigger than they actually are. Though there are around 40 types of map projections, from conical to polyhedral and retroazimuthal depicting the true size maps, this one is still used the most because of its convenience and simplicity. And none of these projections can be titled 'the real world map,' just because they all depict the same Earth through a different lens.

To show how incorrect our understanding of countries by size is, a website called thetruesize.com lets you move landmasses into different locations. Bored Panda has played a bit on world maps with countries, provided by this site, and this is what we found.

#1

US Moved Down Next To Australia Looks Unbelievably Small

US Moved Down Next To Australia Looks Unbelievably Small

The True Size Report

Yvonne Bernal
Community Member
4 years ago

Size of contiguous United States Not counting Alaska & Hawaii, the 48 contiguous states occupy a combined area of 3.12 million sq. mi. While Australia is 2.99 million sq miles - I never realized they were so close in size!

J S
Community Member
4 years ago

Yet there are more people in Texas than in all of Australia.

Load More Replies...
Branwen Smith
Community Member
4 years ago

I don't think this is surprising to people in Australia ...

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

Actually, Australia is incredibly large and thinly populated. 33 people per km² compares to 3,1....i.e. the US is ten times more densely populated (fun fact: central european states such as the netherlands are ten times more densely populated than the US...)

Natalie Blenkhorn
Community Member
4 years ago

The UK is about a 40th of the size of the US, but the US only has 5X the number of people. The UK is dense!

Load More Replies...
Max Shea
Community Member
4 years ago

Imagine driving from Baltimore to St. Louis, but the only road is one dirt track through a desert. That's Australia!

Lyone Fein
Community Member
4 years ago

Not "unbelievably small."

Geoff Dowton
Community Member
4 years ago

You know Australia ISN'T little yeah?

Stuart Anderson
Community Member
4 years ago

No surprise to those of us downunder.

Ben nygaard
Community Member
4 years ago

Maine looks to be 600 miles too far north

Barry Keleher
Community Member
4 years ago

No it doesn't. Knowing how large Australia (which by the way is an entire continent) is, I'd say the U.S. looks pretty damned big.

GlitterGlitch
Community Member
4 years ago

Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, Seram, possibly Timor is the Australian continent which is different than the country

Load More Replies...
Katherine Warren
Community Member
4 years ago

Difference is that Australis is about 85% desert...

Sève Lyndsay Arthur
Community Member
4 years ago

I'm pretty sure that the USA are a bit bigger than Australia, and no, it does not look 'unbelievably small ' Really...

Trisha Lynch
Community Member
4 years ago

Australia is densely populated cause around 35% gets very little rain which makes living there hard, if you click on the picture it will show you where the desert is 800px-Dese...97-png.jpg 800px-Deserts_in_Australia_en-57912c081e897-png.jpg

Katherine White
Community Member
3 years ago

Yup. Australia only inhabits 0.77 km2 of 7.6 million km2 of land, the US inhabits 4.61 million km2 out of 9.6 million km2. Just because we have all that land in Australia, doesn't mean we can use it. 70% is semi-arid, 35% is desert. Much higher percent than the US.

Load More Replies...
Hans Jacobsen
Community Member
3 years ago

The fact is that USA is 9.8 mill km² whereas Australia is 7,7 mill km². That is quite a substantial difference..

Michael Adams
Community Member
3 years ago

Okay for all you non believers. How can you explain this? https://tinyurl.com/yb6nyd9w Well, what is this you say and how come the world and countries look different. Well because this is the actual size of the countries. Well, you ask yourself why is Greenland so small. Well that is because it is small. It is only 836,300 mi² compared to the United States 3.797 million mi². Wow that is a big difference. No, I did not make up these numbers. Go look them up if you think different. Also funny how when one describes Greenland they call it massive but it is around 4,5 times smaller than the United States. Why is it distorted / Well the maps were made from a globes perspective. When it was drawn to paper and put on a flat map the images stayed the same size. They never adjusted the size. As you go near the equator objects become smaller. Why well maybe they were trying to hide something. Who knows. Why were they drawn so big? Oh by the way here is the website to move countries around and fi

Adam Broinowski
Community Member
3 years ago

more desert less water

Peter Marengo
Community Member
4 years ago

No big surprise. If anything, Australia looks smaller; it is, after all, a continent.

Christopher Birkinbine
Community Member
4 years ago

"Looks believably small" I'm sorry, but I am not sure how putting the 3rd largest country in the world next to the 6th largest country in the world by land mass makes either of them look small?

J S
Community Member
4 years ago

The picture doesn't take into account Alaska which is almost 20% of the area of the USA

Load More Replies...
Zoltán Laky
Community Member
4 years ago

Really? They look about the same size.

Sari Kadison-Shapiro
Community Member
4 years ago

They look like they have similar shapes (if you turn Australia upside down....even a shape like the a Great Lakes is there! (And they are "down under"...right?)

Shani Betz
Community Member
4 years ago

you know that the US isn't the biggest country on earth, right?

Marv E. Bloom
Community Member
4 years ago

Oh how wrong you are. The average waist size of America is 42 inches, far surpassing all other countries. (except Germany)

Load More Replies...
Christina Singleton
Community Member
3 months ago

It literally look like upside down twins almost

itchy robot
Community Member
10 months ago

A mass of land that we arbitrarily drew a line around is about the same size as the world's biggest island? oooh so interesting... if you're a really really low effort thinker.

itchy robot
Community Member
10 months ago

is this for little children?

Mr Bacon Man
Community Member
1 year ago

noob

João Jorge
Community Member
1 year ago

The reason why the north is biger than south, is because de real form of the earth is a flat circle!! Think about. Tries transform a circle into a plane and you have a mercator projection!!

Jackie Rader
Community Member
3 years ago

Unbelievably small? Please!!!

Brian Tang
Community Member
3 years ago

I used to tell friends in the US - Western Australia is bigger than Texas!

Gaylene BerBerick
Community Member
3 years ago

If you flipped Australia upside down it's shaped a lot like the US.

Brian Boyd
Community Member
3 years ago

Seems I learned this....in third grade.

TC
Community Member
3 years ago

And Australia has kangaroos...!!

Susan Canon
Community Member
3 years ago

Don't know why someone would say how small America looks next to Australia...looks about the same size from here.

Anja Hübel
Community Member
3 years ago

You have to explain the problem of projections giving wrong size impressions.

Mark Harrison
Community Member
3 years ago

I expected Australia to be much bigger not America.

Anne Zerafa
Community Member
3 years ago

Australia needs to increase its Population...

Katherine White
Community Member
3 years ago

Except 35% of Australia receives so little rainfall, it is classified as desert, 70% is semi-arid, and we only live on 18% of the land for that reason. Australia only inhabits 0.77 km2 of 7.6 million km2 of land, the US inhabits 4.61 million km2 out of 9.6 million km2. Increasing our population will mean we won't have enough water, which we already struggle with when we have decade long droughts.

Load More Replies...
Elliot Peterson
Community Member
3 years ago

The US doesn't show Alaska or the Hawaiian Islands. Map comparison is not at all accurate.

Michael Adams
Community Member
3 years ago

How ironic or is it by coincidence that the true size of the earth countries matches the picture or is by coincidence. flat20eart...er_905.jpg flat20earth20poster_905.jpg

Chris Lucas
Community Member
3 years ago

just a lot smarter :

George Gonzalez-Rivas
Community Member
3 years ago

It's not the size, it's what you do with it.

Arne Sande
Community Member
4 years ago

The misleading proportions of the old Mercator projection maps are well known. Today different ways of flattening the ball are much more in use, and most people will have seen a globus.

Luiz Lima
Community Member
4 years ago

They share together 99,9% of rednecks population in the world.,lots of hillbillies family around these fucking people.

Linus Hollis
Community Member
4 years ago

Missing Hawaii and Alaska, which makes a big difference.

Anthony Myers
Community Member
4 years ago

Here play with the tool. It'll make sense truesize.com

Anthony Myers
Community Member
4 years ago

Here play with the tool. It'll make sense http://thetruesize.com/#?borders=1~!MTY2MjIwMDM.Mjg2MzE1NA*MjUwNzQxODk(MTI0MTc5Mzk~!CONTIGUOUS_US*OTk3NjIwMA.MjgwMzA4MDM(MTc1)Mg~!IN*NTI2NDA1MQ.Nzg2MzQyMQ)MA~!CN*OTkyMTY5Nw.NzMxNDcwNQ(MjI1)MQ

Simon Hutchison
Community Member
4 years ago

Australia has quite a bit more desert than the US though.

Dave ten Hoor
Community Member
4 years ago

This Earth is Flat and Staionary !!!! Go to facebook and join Flat and Stationary Earth. You will be dazzelt

Rhonda Buttery
Community Member
4 years ago

Interesting perspective that USA is described as 'as small as australia', I have always considered aus to be almost as big as the USA. I KNOW Aus is big not small!

J S
Community Member
4 years ago

USA is 2.2 million square kilometers larger than Australia. This map doesn't take into account Alaska which is almost 20% of the area of USA.

Load More Replies...
Katherine Warren
Community Member
4 years ago

Difference is that Australia is about 85% desert....

Michael Dagenais
Community Member
4 years ago

Forgot Alaska Hawaian islands...

Amy Mavromatis
Community Member
4 years ago

They also forgot the Australian islands as well

Load More Replies...
Mark Holmes
Community Member
4 years ago

How does it look small? It looks the same.

Lloyd Macklem Jr.
Community Member
4 years ago

This makes sence now about the size. The long semi trains that haul products across Australia . As it was always shown as a smaller isle did not make sence to have massave trucks .

Joanna Cole
Community Member
4 years ago

"US...looks unbelievably small" is a veeery telling interpretation! Just not as dominant as the writer had presumed is my guess! I'm not at all surprised by the comparative sizes, I'm from UK.

Sonja Barrie
Community Member
4 years ago

And they are still both mostly empty ;-). Having lived on both continents I can attest to driving for hours and hardly seeing another soul. Unlike England where I was born, you trip over someone every 50 feet LOL

Sakari Hildén
Community Member
4 years ago

Believe me, that's the way ("unbelievably small") we see US here in Europe.

Yves Maniette
Community Member
4 years ago

Pour une représentation plus exacte du monde, voyez plutôt authagraph. http://www.authagraph.com/top/?lang=en

Christian Hill
Community Member
4 years ago

it made a good penal colony

Kiril Stanoev
Community Member
4 years ago

I think the Indian Ocean (surrounded in blue) is bigger than Austria, but I may be wrong

Gediminas Gediminas
Community Member
4 years ago

this will shrink russians ego :)

Maria Campbell
Community Member
4 years ago

When I visit US I am ALWAYS having to correct people on how big my country is. (One guy thought it was only as big as the UK! They never believe me. Maybe now they will!

Filip Gregor
Community Member
4 years ago

There's an ocean of indians...

Albertas Agejevas
Community Member
4 years ago

Small? It's the size of a continent!

Virginia Su
Community Member
4 years ago

Lol, and Australia is a SMALL continent. Continents aren't categorised on size you know ahahaha :)

Load More Replies...
Stephanus Reiss
Community Member
4 years ago

still giant

T.H.
Community Member
4 years ago

Their populations are very different, though. Australia only has 36 million, and the USA has almost 317 million (worldpopulationstatistics.com).

Rosie Cheeks
Community Member
4 years ago

Australia has approximately 24.1 million people.

Load More Replies...
View More Replies...
View more comments
#2

Russia On The Equator Is Not A Giant Bear Anymore

Russia On The Equator Is Not A Giant Bear Anymore

the true size Report

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

This one looks rather impressive.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#3

If Romania Was An Island In The Arctic Ocean

If Romania Was An Island In The Arctic Ocean

The True Size Report

Ema Sklepic
Community Member
4 years ago

I don't get why the map was done so inaccuratelly? can somone explain?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#4

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

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

We do not have kangaroos and koala beers over here, though. :( (And, well, also no giant spiders.)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#5

If Brazil Was In Asia It Would Be Massive

If Brazil Was In Asia It Would Be Massive

The True Size Report

Caio Putz
Community Member
4 years ago

o acre ia ser maior que a bolivia hahaha

View more comments
#6

Indonesia Would Spread Almost Across The Whole Of Russia

Indonesia Would Spread Almost Across The Whole Of Russia

The True Size Report

Rasa Nekrošienė
Community Member
4 years ago

Wow!

View more comments
#7

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

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

This one looks quite surprising!

View more comments
#8

When You Move Canada To South America

When You Move Canada To South America

The True Size Report

Shani Betz
Community Member
4 years ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

also, not accurate/true

View More Replies...
View more comments
#9

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

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

And quite soon both are not part of the European Union, as it seems.

View more comments
#10

China Placed On Top Of Russia

China Placed On Top Of Russia

The True Size Report

Stephanus Reiss
Community Member
4 years ago

this is confusing but not true

View more comments
#11

Australia Moved Onto North America Becomes REALLY Big

Australia Moved Onto North America Becomes REALLY Big

The True size Report

Péter Lehoczki
Community Member
4 years ago

Now it even contradicts the very first picture...

View More Replies...
View more comments
#12

Japan Can Stretch Almost Across Canada

Japan Can Stretch Almost Across Canada

The True Size Report

Gordon Weir
Community Member
4 years ago

It all has to do with putting a round object onto a flat, rectangular presentation. Locations near the poles get stretched and distorted, appearing much larger. The point of the map is that IF Japan was in that particular geographic location (closer to the North Pole), it would look much larger when transcribed onto a flat map.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#13

Antarctica Is Not So Much Larger Than Brazil

Antarctica Is Not So Much Larger Than Brazil

The True Size Report

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

But it is colder!

View more comments
#14

This Is How India Changes As You Move It North

This Is How India Changes As You Move It North

The True Size Report

Yvonne Bernal
Community Member
4 years ago

Wholly Molley! No wonder I get so many customer service agents in India.... that is one HUGE country.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#15

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

Katherine Dagold
Community Member
4 years ago

but 2/3rds of Canada is uninhabitable because it's in the f-ing article circle.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#16

How This All Works

How This All Works

Report

Tom Watson
Community Member
4 years ago

You should move this to the top for the dimwits. This is a great series of posts. Thanks for sharing - fun stuff :D

View More Replies...
View more comments
#17

USA Compared To Europe

USA Compared To Europe

The True Size Report

Rinatya Nessim
Community Member
4 years ago

Incredible

View more comments
#18

If Poland Was An Island In The Norwegian Sea

If Poland Was An Island In The Norwegian Sea

The True Size Report

Katarzyna Okupnik
Community Member
4 years ago

Jak wyglądałaby Polska, gdyby była wyspą na Morzu Norweskim :)

View More Replies...
View more comments
#19

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

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

Ask 100 people in a shopping male whether they believe this is the work of rogue regimes...90 will say "yes".

View more comments
#20

When You Move Mexico Onto Greenland Its Size Increases Dramatically

When You Move Mexico Onto Greenland Its Size Increases Dramatically

The True Size Report

JuliO Rdz
Community Member
4 years ago

Viva México cabrones!

View More Replies...
View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda
#21

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

Bernadeta Švedaitė
Community Member
4 years ago

Awww... my home <3

View more comments
#22

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

Giang Nguyen
Community Member
4 years ago

Do you mean after Brexit?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#23

Democratic Republic Of The Congo When You Move It North

Democratic Republic Of The Congo When You Move It North

The True Size Report

ABHIJITH M B
Community Member
7 months ago (edited)

But still the poorest economy in the world ranking

#24

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

Cookie
Community Member
4 years ago

But Russia has 14 time zones.

View More Replies...
View more comments
#25

#27 Tiny Iceland Compared To New York

#27 Tiny Iceland Compared To New York

Report

Kamil Mikolajczyk
Community Member
4 years ago

and Iceland has how many inhabitants? 300k?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#26

Tiny Iceland Compared To Its Giant Neighbor Greenland

Tiny Iceland Compared To Its Giant Neighbor Greenland

The True Size Report

#27

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

Thorfinn Tait
Community Member
4 years ago

"Peters" (actually Gall-Peters, as Gall came up with the projection long before) is no truer than Mercator overall. The key phrase here is area: Gall-Peters is designed to preserve relative areas, while Mercator preserves direction and shape. "True representation of land area" and "Incorrect/false representation of land area" are not entirely false statements, but they are too easily read as "Gall-Peters good, Mercator bad!" Which is simply not the case. But despite the famous West Wing scene, in fact there are many better projections than Gall-Peters for showing the whole world — and they have been and continue to be in use in most major publications related to maps and geography for many, many years. There's no single most popular projection, but Mollweide, Winkel Tripel, and perhaps Robinson remain some of the most common. In short: each projection has its own uses, and its own shortcomings. Mercator was never meant to be the only projection ever used.

View more comments
#28

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

Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

And I told you not to put it into the tumble dryer!

View more comments
#29

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

jason_th_wilson
Community Member
4 years ago

By almost the same size do you really mean less than half as big as Alaska?

View More Replies...
View more comments
#30

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

Ryan Cove
Community Member
3 years ago

At least this time, you used the Hobo Dyer Map instead of the atrocious Gall-Peters Map.

View more comments
See Also on Bored Panda