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Mapped: Visualizing the True Size of Africa

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The True Size of Africa Map

Mapped: The True Size of Africa

Take a look at any map, and it’s clear that the African continent is a big place.

However, despite the common perception that Africa is a large landmass, it’s still one that is vastly underestimated by most casual map viewers.

The reason for this is that the familiar Mercator map projection tends to distort our geographical view of the world in a crucial way — one that often leads to misconceptions about the relative sizes of both countries and continents.

A Geographical Jigsaw

Today’s infographic comes from Kai Krause and it shows the true size of Africa, as revealed by the borders of the countries that can fit within the continent’s shape.

The African continent has a land area of 30.37 million sq km (11.7 million sq mi) — enough to fit in the U.S., China, India, Japan, Mexico, and many European nations, combined.

CountryLand Area (sq. km)Land Area (sq. mi)% of Africa
🇺🇸 United States9.83 million3.80 million32.4%
🇨🇳 China9.60 million3.71 million31.6%
🇮🇳 India3.29 million1.27 million10.8%
🇲🇽 Mexico1.96 million0.76 million6.5%
🇵🇪 Peru1.29 million0.50 million4.2%
🇫🇷 France0.64 million0.25 million2.1%
🇪🇸 Spain0.51 million0.20 million1.7%
🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea0.46 million0.18 million1.5%
🇸🇪 Sweden0.45 million0.17 million1.5%
🇯🇵 Japan0.38 million0.15 million1.3%
🇩🇪 Germany0.36 million0.14 million1.2%
🇳🇴 Norway0.32 million0.13 million1.1%
🇮🇹 Italy0.30 million0.12 million1.0%
🇳🇿 New Zealand0.27 million0.10 million0.9%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom0.24 million0.09 million0.8%
🇳🇵 Nepal0.15 million0.06 million0.5%
🇧🇩 Bangladesh0.15 million0.06 million0.5%
🇬🇷 Greece0.13 million0.05 million0.4%
Total30.33 million sq. km11.71 million sq. mi99.9%

You could add together all of the landmasses above and they would not equate to the geographical footprint of Africa, which itself is home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people.

Editor’s note: The above table is slightly different from the countries shown in the visualization, which focuses more on fitting recognizable country shapes into the geographical shape of Africa.

Why the Misconception?

Interestingly, the problem with maps is not that Africa is sized incorrectly.

Using the animation below, you’ll see that Africa is actually the most accurately sized continent using the common Mercator map projection:

True size of countries animation Mercator

The Mercator projection attempts to place the spherical shape of the world onto a cylinder, causing areas closest to the poles to be “stretched”.

Africa, which straddles the Equator, barely changes in size — meanwhile, the countries furthest from the Equator become inflated from their true sizes on this type of map.

Mercator cylindrical projection

For those of us living in Western countries, this is an interesting dilemma to consider.

This means that the sizes of European and North American countries are distorted, giving us an inaccurate mental “measuring stick” for judging the relative sizes of other countries.

This has implications not only for Africa, but for the whole Southern Hemisphere: South America, India, the Middle East, and even Australia are “bigger” than they may initially appear on a map.

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Misc

Ranked: The Top 10 U.S. Pizza Chains by Market Share

Domino’s is the biggest pizza chain in the U.S. by sales.

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Graphic showing America’s biggest pizza chains by 2022 revenue.

Ranked: Top 10 U.S. Pizza Chains by Market Share

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

About 3 billion pizzas are sold annually in the United States. In 2022, pizza restaurant sales in the U.S. reached an all-time high of $46.9 billion, an increase of roughly $10 billion compared to just a decade prior.

This graphic lists the top 10 U.S. pizza chains based on 2022 sales figures. This data was accessed via Statista (published June 2023).

Domino’s Domination

Domino’s is the biggest pizza chain in the U.S. by sales, reaching $8.6 billion in revenue in 2022. The brand is also found in 90 other countries around the globe, including stores on every continent except Antarctica.

According to Domino’s main website, there are over 20,500 locations worldwide, which collectively serve over 1 million customers per day.

Domino’s is followed by Pizza Hut with $5.3 billion in revenue. Little Caesars, with $4.7 billion, completes the top three.

Company2022 Revenue (USD)
Domino's Pizza8,572,000,000
Pizza Hut5,270,000,000
Little Caesars4,724,000,000
Papa Johns3,712,000,000
Marco's Pizza1,063,000,000
Papa Murphy's753,000,000
MOD Pizza662,000,000
Hungry Howie's534,000,000
Round Table463,000,000
Jet's Pizza441,000,000

The top end of this ranking contains household names, but regional pizza chains also make the cut. Jet’s Pizza is popular in the Great Lakes region, and most Hungry Howie’s locations can be found in Michigan and Florida.

The overall number of pizza restaurants in the U.S. has been on the rise, reaching more than 80,000 units in 2022.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out this graphic, which visualizes the change in market share of U.S. carbonated soft drinks between 1995 and 2023.

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