To draw shapes from a globe on a flat surface, you have to distort things. One of the trade offs with the Mercator projection maps we are most familiar with is that land masses at the top and bottom of the map appear larger than they are. In this map, the actual size of the United States and Alaska are shown over Africa.
Having driven this year to all lower 48 US states over the course of three months, I have a real feeling for the size of my country. Combining that experience with the map tool at thetruesize.com, I have a new way to relate to the planet. I can now feel how long it would take to drive around Africa, to every country there, assuming there were paved roads.
While Alaska is still big, but it is only roughly 1/3 the size of the US, not nearly equal in area to the US as it appears on our maps. Here Alaska dwarfs Texas, right?
One of the most useful concepts you can learn and apply across many aspects of life is this: the map is not the territory.
“I have a map of the United States… Actual size. It says, ‘Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile.’ I spent last summer folding it. I hardly ever unroll it.” – Steven Wright