In all the ages maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But mapmakers can’t avoid being idealogical and subjective being bound up with systems of power and authority of particular times and places. So we can suggest that any world map has been constructed out of ideas of certain age.
What if the world map we have used for centuries doesn’t actually accurately illustrate the globe’s countries and continents, or what if it can have different look depending on the country where it was designed. You will be surprised that world maps in Russia, Europe, USA, China, Australia, Chile and South Africa have fascinating differences. It depends how the author of the map chooses to display the following three things: 1) the centre of the map in relation to ’East’ and ’West’; 2) the idea of ’North’ and ’South’, and 3) what projection method should be used.
The World map through the eyes of Russia
Moscow is considered as a point where the vertical axis of the world (the central point between East and West) passes through. Northern America, South America and Australia are on the outskirts of the world. The Pacific Ocean is not perceived as a single integral space.
The world map through the eyes of Europe
The main meridian of the world passes through London. Like on Russian map both Americas and Australia are on the outskirts of the world, and the Pacific Ocean is not perceived as a single integral space. Also the equator is shifted to the lower half of the map, which makes Africa, South America and Australia smaller compared to North America and Eurasia than these continents and countries actually are.
The world map through the eyes of USA
The main vertical axis of the world passes through the United States. America looks like an «island», washed by the Pacific Ocean in the West and by the Atlantic Ocean in the East. As with the European map, the equator is on the lower half of the map, which makes the size of North America and Eurasia much larger compared to the size of South America, Africa and Australia than they are in reality. Besides Russia, India and China is more complicate for Americans to see as they are shown twice, both in the west and in the east.
The world map through the eyes of China
On their map China is located on the West coast of the Pacific Ocean. All the continents except Africa and Eurasia have access to this ocean, which makes them to places on the outskirts of the globe.
The world map through the eyes of Australia
According to common model that something which is above dominates and something which is below is in a subordinate position. Australians not only display the vertical axis of the world as running through their mainland, but also place their country on top of all the others, effectively turning the map upside down 180 degrees. Like the United States, they become an island lying between the three oceans: the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the Southern Ocean. Another important role is played by the Antarctic, hidden at the bottom on all other maps but seen here at the top.
The world map through the eyes of Chile
This map of the world has been worked out by the scientists for the Military Geographic Institute with the further aim of eventual introduction into Chile’s school textbooks. As with the Australian map, here the ’standard’ map is also turned upside down, helping to give the impression that Chile has a dominant position in the world. At the centre of the map is the Pacific Ocean — this representation of the planet is closely related to the declared policy of modern Chile, which wants to become one of the most important business centres in the Pacific Region. In this regard, Chile is somewhat similar to China — both Africa and Europe are placed at the periphery of the world.
The world map through the eyes of South Africa
Like on Australian map, here South Africa is placed at the top rather than at the bottom, which makes the country to look more dominant than others. South Africa becomes a peninsula, wedged between two oceans: the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. The Pacific region and Russia are on the outskirts of the world.