My better half recently purchased a globe while redecorating our living room. In the age of Google Maps, which distortedly depicts the earth as flat, I haven’t fondled, let alone studied, one of these cylindrical wonders since grade school.
Upon doing so, I quickly realized that although faster, more useful and more convenient, digital maps can never replace the more accurate perspective of a model planet. Because of the latter, I even learned a few things and increased my respect for this big round ball we call home.
Northern Scandinavia is in the Arctic Circle
Forgive me, Norwegians, Swedes and Finns, but as an ignorant American, I had no idea just how far north you are. Many of you live on the same parallel as Northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland, which is a stretch for most North Americans to believe. We get anxious beyond anything above 45th parallel North. Crazier still, nearly a third of you is actually Arctic.
The Pacific Ocean is Enormous
After reviewing my globe, I finally found a visual justification for why California coastal water is so freaking cold. A body of water this colossal will never warm as much as lesser oceans. Granted, I always knew the Pacific was the biggest ocean in the world, but that title does not do it justice. Half of our ocean water is Pacific water! It could swallow the second and third largest oceans combined, the Atlantic and Indian respectively. Simply put, it’s size is humbling and makes me feel small.
Africa is Nearly Twice the Size of South America
Let that sink in for a minute. Got it? Good. Maybe those living in easterly longitudes already knew this fact—the ignorant American strikes again! But Africa’s gargantuan presence is glaringly felt while viewing a globe. Indeed, most people already appreciate the massive size of Eurasia, our planet’s largest landmass. But Africa is no slouch either and similarly dwarfs all other continents who dare to chest bump it. Again, this makes me feel small. Thank you, Africa.
New Zealand is as Far South as Europe is North
Because of its economic, cultural and historical clout, Europe might seem to be at the center of the earth … and closer to the equator than it actually is. In reality, for all the Americans going there, they must fly several degrees north, between 10 to 20 degrees in some cases. Conversely, I always thought New Zealand was waaaaaay down south. I was wrong. It’s no more south than Europe is north, about 45° either way.
Madagascar Leaves a Mark
Instead of an island, I dare say she might technically pass as a mini-continent. She’s that well proportioned. More magnitude than I realized before. I hope to visit her someday and shake hands with some of her 22 million inhabitants.
: The Arctic and Antarctica. Anything beyond the 65th parallel really—are a lot smaller than Google Maps makes them out to be.
Photo: ?????? ??????, CC-BY
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.