Boston schools ditch 'misleading' world map

Traditional Mercator projection abandoned in favour of more accurate Gall-Peters plan

Gall-Peters map
The Gall-Peters map, set to be used in Boston schools

Around 600 classrooms in Boston are set to ditch the widely used but highly distorted traditional map of the world in favour of a more accurate depiction of the globe.

Schools will use the Gall-Peters projection, which displays countries according to their actual size, in place of the Mercator projection, which shrinks Africa and South America and makes Europe and North America look much bigger than they actually are.

Boston public schools spokesman Colin Rose says the move is part of an ongoing effort to "decolonise the curriculum" and to challenge the "symbolic representation that put Europe at the centre of the world".

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He added: "When you continue to show images of the places where people's heritage is rooted that are not accurate, that has an effect on students."

The Mercator map, published in 1569 by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator, is the standard world map in almost all countries. However, it has come under criticism for its inaccurate and Eurocentric portrayal of the world's landmasses, with for example, Greenland much bigger than Africa despite being 14 times smaller, says the Boston Globe.

"And while Alaska appears to eclipse Mexico, the country's 49th state can actually fit inside of our nation's neighbour to the south with room to spare," adds the paper.

It also places western Europe in the middle of the map and shows North America and Europe to be bigger than South America and Africa, reports The Guardian.

The Gall-Peters projection was created in 1974 by German historian Arno Peters, using a projection made by the Scottish 19th-century cartographer James Gall.

It is an "equal-area" map that removes the distortions of the Mercator projection and instead more accurately distributes surface area to countries.

The Gall-Peters map has been used in schools before but this is the first time it will be used across an entire district as the standard world map.

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