Understanding The World Map

Access of information through internet is very easy these days. But how well that information is presented is another debate. The world map is presented in different formats over the internet but not all those are useful. Some people find it difficult to understand maps in three dimensional format. This  globe format is also known as terrestrial globe and for some two dimensional Mercator projection is not easy.

Interesting Fun Facts about planet earth

Be sure to check 10 Interesting Facts About Earth Rarely Known.

Is earth round or flat ?

The notion of planet earth being round or flat originates different perspectives of the world map. This debate dates back to 3rd century BC and found in ancient Greek philosophy. Cartographers and navigators kept on using diverse experimental methods to determine the reality. It’s not until 16th  (1519) century when two explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano went on circumnavigation expedition. At the end of expedition they concluded that our planet earth is round.

This discovery left us with difficulty of understanding the world map. Humanity may not be clear at who did the first moon walk but now they all agree on Earth being round. When we see a spherical image of planet earth, it becomes difficult for our brain to comprehend flat land. Understanding geographical locations of countries becomes a difficult job. Solution to this is Mercator’s way: conversion of the world map from three dimensional spherical to flat two dimensional.

For our utility let’s have a look at a two dimensional world map. This is also known as Mercator projection


A two dimensional world map known as Mercator projection on the world map

Two Dimensional World Map


The world map illustration

In following projection Y-axis has two extremes. On the right side it’s the tip of Russia from where the Bering Sea starts and stretches till mainland Alaska on the left side. The approximate distance between Russia and Alaska is 55 miles by sea. This route remains close most of the year due to below freezing temperatures.


route map from Russia to Alaska by sea on the world map

Illustration of Sea route from Russia to Alaska through Bering Sea

frozen Bering sea Russia to Alaska

Frozen Bering Sea


In a broader perspective most of the cartographers divide the world map into continents which are further partitioned into countries and so on. Apart from land which covers 1/3rd portion of earth, rest of the planet is filled with water that is 2/3rd part. The image below illustrates division of the world map into seven continents namely Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, Australia


continents of planet on the world map

Continents on the World Map


Equator line on map

Navigators / cartographers keep on adding new marks on the world map for ease of understanding. Most commonly used reference point is the imaginary line drawn at the center of planet earth. This line is commonly known as equator. A very interesting phenomenon is that if we glance at flat illustration of world map, the equator line is not exactly in the middle of the earth. This fact is only understood once we glance at spherical image of the world map.


equator line on the globe map-min

Line of Equator on Globe


Another prominent navigational tool is the mark of North Pole and South Pole. There comes the limitation of Mercator flat projection: in this view poles cannot be marked so we get the aid of spherical view. Both poles are two farthest ends of earth clearly projected on the world map. North Pole is the northern extreme of globe and from there all directions head towards south. The famous North Star (Polaris) is statically positioned exactly above the North Pole. Due to it’s strategic positioning North star in high demand by the navigators for map-reading in northern hemisphere region.

deepest cave on planet earth fun fact

An interesting fact about North Pole is that it witnesses only one sunrise (in March) and one sunset (in September) round the year. Because of its altitude that is 9,000 ft above sea level, North Pole remains covered with snow round the year. The upper snow layer can be 6 feet to 9 feet thick. As per estimation, average temperature on North Pole remains between -1 C to 0 C round the year. If you want to witness North Pole you can join FWD yearly marathon.

North Pole marathon

North Pole marathon is being organized since 2002 by FWD Insurance. Normally the course of the race stretches to 26.2 miles. The course of the race offers extreme winds, sub zero temperatures and heavenly scenery. In 2011 enthusiast participants from 38 different nations were present at the race. If you are intend to join North Pole expedition start saving loads of money because it costs approximately $16,000.


Marathon race at Alaska organized by FWD

North Pole Marathon Race


3 Useful Methods for Memorizing the World Map

Following three methods can be very useful while memorizing the world map:

Use the alphabetical order

Remembering the countries on world map through alphabetical order of English language is a very handy technique. This method is mostly used in elementary classes to teach children. First write the names of all countries in alphabetical order and then start memorizing them. Quiz yourself after few hours by jolting down all names on a paper in a sequential manner. Repeat this method for few times and you will have the world map on your finger tips.

infotainment facts about planet earth

One Continent at a time

Another popular method is the use of continents. First break the entire map into continents and memorize them. In second phase start learning the names of countries associated with each continent. To make it more easy start from one side that is either from left to right or right to left. which ever continent comes first start with that. Hopefully this will work.

Learning through interactive world map

Third and last method is relatively difficult but has its perks. Find an interactive world map image on Google and stare it for few minutes each day while memorizing few countries. Repeat this process for a week and test yourself. You will definitely recall the map image in your brain. This method will not only help you to remember countries but will also develop a general geographical wisdom.

While focusing on countries and continents don’t forget to glance at the Oceans. Seas & Oceans clearly mark a segregation line on the world map which is very helpful in understand the world map. Following is the list of some most famous Seas and Oceans:

North Pacific Ocean

Pacific is the largest & deepest ocean among all. It was named in 1951 by a Portuguese voyager. Word “Pacific” is derived from Latin word “Pace” means Peaceful. Due to this Pacific is also regarded as Peaceful Sea. Map of the Pacific Ocean reveal that it’s divided by the equator into North and South and shares its boundary with Antarctica, Asia, Australia and America.

North Atlantic Ocean

Atlantic is the second largest ocean on the face of earth after pacific. It covers around 25% of total planet. Atlantic works as a divider between America on one side whereas Europe and Africa on the other. The famous Bahamas Islands are also located under the Atlantic territory. The shape of Atlantic can be easily remembered through English alphabet S.

The Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean is regarded as the third largest in the world. It’s sharing shores with Australia, Africa and Asia. Most commonly known islands of Indian Ocean are Maldives and Madagascar.

Indian Ocean Animals

There are almost 500 different species of aquatic animals found in the Indian Ocean. out of these animals following are most commonly known: Blue Whale, Seahorse, Crab, Clown Fish,  Albatross, Giant Tortoise and Dugong


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Mian Abdullah

Writer is currently working as Research Associate at Glow Digest. He is an MBA degree bearer and takes keen interest in writing about Geography, Travel and Home Interior.

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