The True Size of Africa – Kai Krause

A Small contribution in the fight against ‘immappancy’ (first time I have heard this word…lol). This is a classic case of a picture telling even more than a thousand words. The fact that Africa is a geographic heavy weight spells the nature of its challenges in overcoming some of its peculiar troubles. If land ownership translated into real wealth, how lucky the continent is – If only its leaders will change its course and take advantage of its natural endowments.

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115 thoughts on “The True Size of Africa – Kai Krause

  1. Eye-opening for sure. A quibble: you should specify that your USA does not include Alaska (nor Hawaii, but that wouldn’t make much of a difference).

  2. America is the 3rd largest country in the world according to the latest data. Russia is the giant slightly less than twice the size of the USA. Canada is slightly larger and China falls in the 4th place slightly smaller than the USA.
    The population estimates of the kids were extremely off, but the USA does have the 3rd largest population although it is less than 25% of China’s and only a slightly higher percentage of India’s. I could see how kids constantly hearing of the huge population of China and seeing how the 2 countries are a similar size might guess a billion.
    It is a sad lack of knowledge though.

  3. Curious: If you eliminate from the Africa map the uninhabitable regions (Sahara, Namib desert, etc) how does the map then look?

  4. I buy your argument that the Mercator et.al. projections do skew our understanding, but who exactlyd didn’t know that Africa was a continent? (indeed, the second largest continent, if you count North and South America as different continents).

    • My thoughts to. Plus what is the point? Is it to point out ignorance about population and geography? Is it to highlight the inability of a continent and people to utilize the vast resources they have ?

  5. This is a little bit stretched. If you included the entire North American (i.e. The U.S. plus Alaska, Canada and Mexico) Continent against the African continent the size difference wouldn’t be that great.

  6. This graphic is hugely misleading. The Sahara Desert covers 45% of Africa and is uninhabitable. Africa is a continent of nightmarish size, but only about half is inhabited, and lived in by people far too many people who are incapable of supporting themselves. Overpopulation is a horrific problem.

  7. What does this prove? What does geographical size have to do with population?

    Africa may be bigger than those places combined, but it is a continent of over 50 countries that has a smaller population than both India and China… NOT combined. In fact it’s so much smaller that you can add the population of the world’s third most populous country (USA) to Africa to get the population of China, or add the world’s fourth most populous country (Indonesia) to Africa to get the population of India.

    If there was a relationship between size and population your article or my response would have mentioned Russia or Canada by now.

  8. Also as far as Africa’s “peculiar troubles” are concerned, there are far more poor people in South Asia than in Africa, yet we don’t hear 1/10th as much about them in the media and popular culture for some reason. Hell they probably don’t even get 1/10th the number of visits from Jolie and Bono. Surely the actual economic well being of hundreds of millions of people living in poverty is a more pressing issue than this “immappancy” nonsense…

  9. Are people actually getting emotional about the size of continents. People are acting as if the size of Africa compared to their countries is something negative. It’s a continent people it’s going to be larger than a single country.

    How is this graphic misleading it’s talking about size not inhabitable area. I think the people getting so emotional about this need to ask themselves what they’re getting emotional over.

  10. Who is getting emotional? People are responding with facts, and their responses are related to the subject matter being discussed.

    It’s misleading BECAUSE it’s talking about size instead of inhabitable area.
    When the other thing you’re discussing is population, inhabitable area is obviously far more relevant than size. See the comment above about Russia and Canada.

  11. The main idea of this article is to talk about the size of Africa in reality as opposed to the perception of Africa due to the terrible maps everyone grows up with. There is very little about Population in this article.

    People randomly going off into tangents about how it misleads and that parts of Africa don’t count lead me to believe people are getting more emotional than rational about this discussion. What does the Sahara desert have to do with the size of Africa? I mean I think it goes to show a bit of some close mindedness or Geographic nationalism.

    I mean I consider myself to be a pretty involved person with Geography I often just look at maps. But the graphic and the description really illustrate how large it is. Obviously I knew Africa was huge but because maps don’t really show it so well you often don’t picture it that way. So I’m not really sure why there needed to be a discussion about what parts of Africa have people living in it and which parts don’t.

    I think the comparisons should have been made between continents not countries.

  12. That’s a very nifty graphic. I knew the Mercator projection distorted Africa, but had never really appreciated by how much. Even equal-area maps don’t convey the continent’s true size this well.

  13. This is total BS. If you have a problem with how awesome the USA is, why don’t you just say it instead of pretending Africa is bigger?

  14. The basic idea that Africa’s size is underrepresented on most maps is pretty well known. And clearly some liberties have been taken with the truth here (comparing continents to countries, leaving out enormous chunks of countries, etc). Before I say what I think of all that, however, I’d just like to know…what’s the point of this post?

  15. Africa has so much potential. I sure do hope they can get it together some day. According to my own experience there, I think it would be awfully nice if Africa’s “leaders” cared about its people maybe half as much as lots of us outsiders do. That would help immeasurably.

  16. I have fallen in love with a particular group of people in a particular village in western Uganda and preparing for my 4th trip back to see them. I am so grateful for this interesting map because when I tell people that all of the U.S. easily fits into the Saharan Desert, they look at me in disbelief! I shall now incorporate this map into my power point presentation! Thank you!

      • thank you on behalf of my fellow Ugandans, and sincerely return the compliment having had the privilege of enjoying a visit to Nigeria. But OMG the heat! :-).

    • Ha ha ha….well, it depends on where and at what time you visited.
      Lagos, with the combustion of body heat will give you a false alarm about
      weather conditions in the country. :P

  17. I like the comment here, “We are all Africans.” Never thought of that before! There is also a lesson here for business people … I made a comment about your map at markvanderkam.com. Cheers!

    • Thanks Mark…It’s Kai Krause’s map, and he’s really done a great job showing us the true picture of things. And indeed..we are all Africans, as long as we have a heart for her.
      Thanks

  18. Unfortunately, your argument against immapancy is undermined by the fact that it contains several examples if immapancy! The most glaring is that strange blob entitled “eastern europe”. Eastern Europe can be defined to include everything from Russia to Bosnia to Cyprus, and the countries you included are just as different from one another as the countries in Africa you argue should not be viewed as a homogenous.

    • Deola, I do not think the author of the map insinuates the homogeneity of Africa. He merely speaks to a larger insufficient geographic knowledge of locations in the world. We sometimes think in enclaves until we see information that shatters our pre-harboured notions. :)

  19. Except that you compare a continent with countries…
    I’m all with you saying that people know very few about african contries and people. But this comparison is biased. You’re saying that projections lead to bad interpretation and at the same time compare thing that are not comparable + push a little bit more in the bad direction suggesting that Africa is… a country !
    What about comparing Africa with Asia or the whole American continent ?

    • Please consider carefully. The author never compares a continent to a country. He merely is trying to show how large the continent of Africa is by showing how many individual countries in other parts of the world will fit into it. The point is to give a clear perspective to the geographic enormity of the continent and to get people more educated in the issue of maps.

  20. Great post. Love the idea, I will be using this in a lesson in my class. Thank you for the time to post it, I hope you are not listening to the ‘knockers’ keep up the good work! Coming from Australia, we too have a large portion of our country ‘uninhabitable’ although certain Indigenous groups do/can live there.

    Anyway, just me 2cents worth while waking up.

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  25. Chuck Cavanaugh:
    It’s a little disturbing, to me, to see such a careless assumption that an entire continent’s “leaders” need to “get it together” without considering the ramifications of history for why things are the way they are today. And not to completely disagree with you that the current leaders could be doing more in regards to supporting their fellow Africans, but let’s just remember that the West and much of the Developed World is not at all innocent for the current state of Africa. Colonization, the slave trade, and dividing indigenous people to control and tax them has lasting effects that many people want to ignore ever happened. Side note, all people have “potential.” It’s unfortunate that many people (esp. from the West) don’t seek or acknowledge the need for reconciliation and justice for what has really taken place in Africa and how starting with this approach may build a more hopeful future for all.

    -A Ranting American.

  26. let’s just remember that the West and much of the Developed World is not at all innocent for the current state of Africa. Colonization, the slave trade, and dividing indigenous people to control and tax them has lasting effects that many people want to ignore ever happened. Side note, all people have “potential.”

    • Agreed. But the more existential issue is how do these countries work through their disadvantages and create a better present and future. If everyone has potential as you rightly state, then there remains no chance for excuses. :)

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  30. My boyfriend bookmarked this link and I came here accidentally. Thanks a great deal for this post! A real good read. I don’t have a lot of time at this time to create a lot of my blathering opinions,(my lil girl needs attention, lol), but when I return tomorrow evening, I’ll explain in depth why I really dig with this article.

  31. Living in Africa for the past 17 years I can see that the leaders of each and every individual country suck. The only goal they seem to have is to exploit the people of their countries. Or how can it be that in the year 2000 the president of Kenia, Mr Moi was rated the third richest man in the world. And now in Lybia they find loooots of billions of dollars every where in the world.
    Not only that the dictators exploit their people and beautiful countries, the western world even supports them in doing so. Just look at the schools in most African countries, and you will start crying. It is very sad that all the world looks and supports African dictators in keeping their population as uneducated as possible, so they con keep doing what they are doing.

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