Flattening the Earth so that it can be easily drawn on a 2-dimensional surface is complicated. Over many years map projections have been developed to aid in this process, but they can only really estimate (albeit very accurately) the shape and dimensions of things on the Earth’s round surface. Whilst it is important to understand the technical aspects of map projections, it is also worth considering the effects that such transformations can have on people’s view of the world.
The image below shows an assortment of map projections of the UK (and one of Great Britain). These have all been taken from Wikipedia so the level of detail along the coastline varies a little. They demonstrate nicely the effect that different map projections can have on the shape of a country.
As you can see, some of the projections have squashed the UK whilst others have stretched it or changed its orientation. The British National Grid is the best representation because it has been designed specifically for Britain. It is the projection you will see used on Ordnance Survey maps and therefore most printed maps of the UK (it is rarer to find it online). Whilst excellent for Britain, the National Grid projection does not work on a global scale because it would cause massive distortions to the other countries. Instead, we should apply global projections, which need to be chosen carefully depending on their purpose and the scale of the map being produced. A poor choice of projection can have significant consequences because the relative size of a country on a map matters. Perception of country’s size is a delicate