The Most Popular Map Projection, Ranked

Choose the map projection you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 24, 2024 07:22
Understanding different map projections can greatly enhance anyone's comprehension of geographical data. Map projections help convert the complex, spherical surface of the earth into a two-dimensional map, each bringing a distinct perspective and set of uses. A well-chosen map projection is crucial for accurate representation of geography, whether in education, navigation, or analysis. This site provides a dynamic ranking of popular map projections, driven by user votes. By participating, users contribute to a broader consensus on the most effective projections for various needs. Each vote helps prioritize certain qualities and uses, aiding others in choosing the right projection for their specific purposes.

What Is the Most Popular Map Projection?

  1. 1
    87
    votes
    Mercator Projection
    productie van de afbeelding uit het .shp-bestand: Koenb at Dutch Wikipedia · Public domain
    This is one of the most popular projections, especially for navigation purposes, as it preserves angles and shapes accurately but distorts the size of land masses towards the poles.
  2. 2
    34
    votes
    Peters Projection
    Strebe · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Peters Projection

    Dr. Arno Peters
    This projection was designed to address the distortion of Mercator, particularly in relation to the representation of Africa, by making the size of landmasses more accurate.
    The Peters Projection, also known as the Gall-Peters Projection, is a map projection that presents the world map in a rectangular format. It aims to address the issue of distortion, particularly in terms of area size, that is prevalent in other popular map projections.
    • Projection type: Cylindrical Equal-area
    • Year of creation: 1973
    • Purpose: To provide a more accurate representation of the true size of landmasses
    • Distortion: Reduced distortion in terms of area size, but increased distortion in shape and distance
    • Orientation: Rectangular, with Europe and Africa in the center
  3. 3
    22
    votes
    Robinson Projection
    Strebe · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Robinson Projection

    Arthur H. Robinson
    This projection is a compromise between the distortions of Mercator and Peters, with a curved shape that balances distortion across the map.
    The Robinson Projection is a widely used map projection that was developed by Arthur H. Robinson in 1963. It is known for its compromise approach, aiming to provide a visually appealing representation of the entire world with minimal distortion.
    • Projection type: Pseudocylindrical
    • Properties: Compromise projection with minimal distortion
    • Scale: Moderate distortion, fairly true along the equator and meridians
    • Latitude of true scale: 38° N and 38° S
    • Longitude of central meridian: Usually set as 0°, but can be adjusted
  4. 4
    20
    votes
    Azimuthal Equidistant Projection
    productie van de afbeelding uit het .shp-bestand: Koenb at Dutch Wikipedia · Public domain
    This projection is commonly used for maps that show air travel routes, as it accurately depicts distances between points from a single central point.
    The Azimuthal Equidistant Projection is a map projection that shows the Earth as if it were projected onto a flat surface by placing the projection center at the Earth's center. It preserves distances accurately from the projection center to any other point on the map, but distorts shapes, areas, and angles away from the center.
    • Projection type: Azimuthal
    • Properties: Equidistant
    • Distortion: Shape, area, and angle
    • Scale: Accurate from projection center
    • Applications: Air navigation, polar charts, visualizations of celestial phenomena
  5. 5
    12
    votes

    Conic Projection

    Nicolas Auguste Tissot
    This projection is commonly used for maps that cover small areas, such as states or provinces, as it accurately represents the shape and size of land masses.
    The Conic Projection is a map projection that represents the Earth onto a cone. The cone is then unrolled into a flat surface, resulting in a map. This projection is commonly used for mapping smaller regions or countries rather than the entire globe.
    • Shape: Conic
    • Purpose: Mapping smaller regions
    • Distortion: Distorts both shape and area
    • Latitude of projection: Adjustable
    • Longitude of projection: Adjustable
  6. 6
    13
    votes
    Miller Cylindrical Projection
    Strebe · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Miller Cylindrical Projection

    Osborn Maitland Miller
    This projection is a compromise between the distortions of Mercator and the equal area projection, with a straight equator and slightly curved meridians.
    The Miller Cylindrical Projection is a cylindrical map projection that represents the Earth's surface as if wrapped around a cylinder. It preserves the shape and scale of objects along the equator, but distorts them towards the poles.
    • Type: Cylindrical
    • Orientation: Equator
    • Properties: Pseudocylindrical
    • Introduced: 1942
    • Projection ratio: 1.47
  7. 7
    7
    votes
    Goode Homolosine Projection
    Koenb at Dutch Wikipedia (Original text: productie van de afbeelding uit het .shp-bestand: Koenb) · Public domain

    Goode Homolosine Projection

    John Paul Goode
    This projection is designed to accurately represent the sizes and shapes of land masses while minimizing distortion, especially for continents like Africa and South America.
    The Goode Homolosine Projection, also known as the Goode's Interrupted Homolosine Projection, is an equal-area pseudocylindrical map projection. It was developed by John Paul Goode in 1923. The projection aims to minimize distortion while accurately representing the true sizes and shapes of land masses and oceans.
    • Projection Type: Pseudocylindrical
    • Properties: Equal-area
    • Distortion: Minimized
    • Land Masses: Accurately represented in size and shape
    • Oceans: Accurately represented in size and shape
  8. 8
    9
    votes

    Sinusoidal Projection

    Jean-Claude Delisle
    This projection is often used for thematic maps that require equal area representations of land masses, as it accurately represents the size of continents and oceans.
    The Sinusoidal Projection is a pseudocylindrical map projection that preserves equal area on the Earth's surface. It was first developed by Jean-Claude Delisle in the mid-18th century. This projection represents the meridians as equally spaced vertical straight lines, and the parallels as slightly curved horizontal lines that are equidistant from each other.
    • Shape: Pseudocylindrical
    • Property: Equal area
    • Meridians: Straight and equally spaced
    • Parallels: Slightly curved and equidistant
    • Distortion: Low distortion along the central meridian
  9. 9
    3
    votes
    Winkel Tripel Projection
    Strebe · Public domain
    This projection is a compromise between the distortions of the Robinson and the equal area projection, with a curved shape that balances distortion across the map.
    The Winkel Tripel Projection is a popular map projection that combines the advantages of both the cylindrical and pseudoazimuthal map projections. It is designed to minimize distortion in size, shape, and direction. The projection provides a visually pleasing balance and is commonly used for world maps.
    • Map type: Equal-area
    • Projection type: Pseudocylindrical
    • Aspect ratio: 2:1
    • Distortion: Low overall distortion
    • Purpose: World maps
  10. 10
    8
    votes

    Eckert IV Projection

    Max Eckert-Greifendorff
    This projection is commonly used for world maps that require equal area representations of land masses, as it accurately represents the size of continents and oceans.
    The Eckert IV Projection is a pseudocylindrical map projection that was developed by Max Eckert-Greifendorff in 1906. It is an equal-area projection, which means that the areas on the map are represented proportionally accurate. It preserves the shape of the continents but distorts their size and scale. The projection is often used to display the entire Earth's surface, particularly for thematic maps such as population or climate data.
    • Projection type: Pseudocylindrical
    • Properties: Equal-area
    • Shape preservation: Preserves shape of continents
    • Distortion: Distorts size and scale of landmasses
    • Primary use: Displaying global thematic data

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Ranking factors for popular map projection

  1. Distortion
    Every map projection introduces some form of distortion to the representation of the Earth's surface since it's impossible to display a three-dimensional sphere on a two-dimensional surface perfectly. Key distortion factors include area, shape, distance, and direction. The popularity of a map projection depends on how it manages these distortions.
  2. Geographic Area
    The area of the world being mapped can influence the choice of projection. Some projections work better for particular regions, such as polar projections for polar regions, or cylindrical projections for equatorial regions.
  3. Aesthetics
    The visual appearance and style of the map may also be a factor. Some projections, like the Mercator and Robinson projections, are considered more visually appealing for general use.
  4. Familiarity
    The popularity of map projections is influenced by the level of familiarity users may have with it. Some map projections are widely recognized and easier to understand due to their usage in various educational institutions, atlases, and international publications.
  5. Historical and Cultural Factors
    The historical development and usage of certain map projections also affect their popularity. Historically, specific projections have been used more extensively due to technological constraints or cultural preferences.
  6. Mathematical Properties
    The mathematical properties and principles underlying a map projection, such as its ability to preserve certain aspects like angles, distances or areas, play a role in its popularity. Some projections are simpler to understand due to their mathematical basis, while others are more complex.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular map projection. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or projection is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!

Statistics

  • 1767 views
  • 214 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each projection once every 24 hours. The rank of each projection is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular map projection

Map projections are a fundamental tool of cartography, allowing us to represent the three-dimensional surface of the Earth on a two-dimensional plane. There are many different types of map projections, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. However, when it comes to popularity, few projections can match the ubiquity of the Mercator projection. Developed by Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569, this projection has been widely used for centuries due to its ability to accurately plot courses for navigation. Despite its popularity, the Mercator projection has been criticized for its distortion of land mass sizes, particularly at high latitudes, making it less useful for general-purpose maps. Other popular map projections include the Robinson projection, the Peters projection, and the Winkel tripel projection, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks.

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