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Peters Projection vs. Mercator Projection
Part 3: Alternatives & Conclusion
More of this Feature
Part 1: Peters Projection
Part 2: Mercator Projection
Join the Discussion
"What do you think about the Peters vs. Mercator Projection debate? Do you like either projection?"
Your Guide, Matt

Related Resources
Latitude & Longitude
Map Projections

by Matt T. Rosenberg


Non-rectangular maps have been around for a long time. The National Geographic Society adopted the Van der Grinten projection in 1922. The Van der Grinten encloses the world in a circle. In 1988, they switched to the Robinson projection, on which the high latitudes are less distorted in size (but more so in shape). In 1998, the Society began using the Winkel Tripel projection, which provides a slightly better balance between size and shape than the Robinson projection.

Compromise projections like the Robinson or Winkle Tripel present the world in a more globe-like look and are strongly encouraged by geographers. These are the types of projections you'll see on maps of continents or of the world today.

Robinson projection
Robinson Projection


The Mercator vs. Peters controversy is truly a moot point. Both maps are rectangular projections and are poor representations of the planet. Ignorant statements like "Only now are the first non-chauvinistic maps being produced without bias to any one region of the earth. They are 'Peters Maps' from Peters Atlas of the World" inflame geographers and cartographers alike because they're lies - all maps show a certain degree of bias but professional map makers have not promoted a politically incorrect map such as Mercator's - it's a silly "debate."

Abramms, Bob. "Peters Projection: Divisive or Diverse?" in Perspective (newsletter of the National Council for Geographic Education), October 2000. Volume 29, Number 1. Campbell, John. Map Use & Analysis. McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Feldman, Thomas D. "Letter: Map Projections and 'Carto-Kitsch'" in Perspective, December 2000. Volume 29, Number 2.
Monmonier, Mark. Drawing the Line: Tales of Maps and Cartocontroversy. Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1994.
Wood, Denis. The Power of Maps. The Guilford Press, 1992.

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