Google Maps has recently added a 3D Globe mode. It doesn’t sound like big news because its not really that different from Google Earth and we all know that the Earth is a sphere, right? However, it makes a big difference to the size of certain countries which were appear larger than they really are since a guy named Gerardus Mercator (great name) solved the 3D-globe-to-2D-map problem back in 1539 by making the globe into a cylinder and then flattening it.

The countries around the equator stay much the same, but the countries at the top and bottom of the globe were stretched enormously in order to convert a sphere into something you could look at on a single plane. This is pretty much how maps have been for the past 400 years. And it was good enough – people’s travels were on a small enough scale to not really require taking a globe on vacation for accuracy.

So now, if you zoom out on Google Maps, you’ll see a globe instead of a flat map. Greenland isn’t the size of Africa anymore (sorry, Denmark) and Kazakhstan appears to be about the size of Europe. Those poor European states have shrunk to hardly anything at all! And I was told as a kid that Australia was about as wide as continental USA but it certainly didn’t look like it before.

You can go and have a look for yourself here:

And this page shows how the change has effectively shrunken some countries with a fun gif.

What have you noticed about Google’s new Globe Mode? Does it change your perception of the size of your host or home country?