Peters World map

Author: Peters, Arno
Publisher: ODT, Inc.
Date: 2006
Location: World

Dimensions: 89 x 129 cm.
Scale: One square cm. = 63,550 sq. kilo
Call Number: G3201.B72 2006 .A5


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A much more controversial map distributed by the firm ODT in Amherst, Massachusetts, is a world map based on the Peters Projection. This projection was popularized by Arno Peters, a 20th-century German historian, who was dissatisfied with the Mercator projection. The latter was originally developed in the late 16th century primarily for navigational purposes but was used widely throughout the 19th and 20th centuries for general reference maps.

Peters argued that the Mercator projection (illustrated in the first two insets at the bottom of the sheet) grossly exaggerates the importance of the countries in the northern hemisphere, i.e. the well developed, industrialized countries, at the expense of the third world countries in South America, Africa, and southern Asia. Since these countries are located in the equatorial regions, there is minimal exaggeration of their areas.

In place of the Mercator projection, Peters advocated the use of a projection that is known technically as the Gall equal-area projection, but is now popularly known by his name. This projection preserves relative area or size throughout the entire map, but in doing so, it distorts the shapes of continents and countries. At first glance, it is quite obvious that shapes are so distorted that it reminds one of standing in front of a mirror in a fun house..

Soon after Peters presented his projection, it was adopted for use in maps by a number of social agencies such as the World Council of Churches, UNESCO, and UNICEF to graphically present a more equitable distribution of social and demographic data.

The English edition of this projection is subtitled, "The map which represents countries accurately according to their surface areas." In the marginal text, the publishers further explain that the Peters projection is "superior in its portrayal of proportions and sizes" and "its importance goes far beyond questions of cartographic accuracy. No less than our world view is at stake."

Distributed in North America by ODT, Inc.

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