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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Saturday, 11 October 2008 08:51 UK
Topsy-turvey world

It's the world as you've never seen it.

Cartography - or mapmaking - is an ancient art. But one of the things that mapmakers from the ancient Greeks to the Chinese discovered is that forming a two-dimensional representation of the spherical world is difficult.
Maps and map making
Earth seen from space
Bablylonians had produced maps by 2500 BC
The Mercator projection was created by Flemish cartographer Gheert Cremer in 1569
The total land area of the 200 territories in the Atlas of the Real World is 13,056m hectares
In spring 2000 the population of the world passed 6bn for the first time

The Mercator projection represents our usual view of the world - with north at the top and Europe at the centre.

Then there's the Peters world map, based on projection devised by clergyman James Gall, which shows the world very differently.

Because the Mercator projection inflates the size of regions according to their distance from the equator, it means that - according to the map - Greenland is larger than Africa.

The Peters world map, in contrast, equates the land area of each country to its size on the map - so that countries are restored to their rightful proportion.

But now there's a new way of looking at the world. The Atlas of the Real World charts the way the inhabitants of the planet actually live by showing its characteristics.

The maps are constructed to represent data, such as population, migration and economics. Nothing unusual there. But instead of a conventional map being coloured different shades, for instance, the maps in the Atlas are differently sized.

For instance, a country with twice as many people as another is twice the size; a country three times as rich as another is three times the size.

If you are more interested in people than land area, then the map which draws each country in proportion to its population restores the world to its correct proportions.

Correct proportions, that is, if all humans are seen as equal. But the map sized by how many votes each country has at the IMF is differently shaped again, as it is of nuclear warheads, babies born or of children dying.

It leads to some surreal, extraordinary and sometimes artistic creations - and a whole new way to look at the world.

War deaths in 2002

War deaths in 2002

The size of each territory indicates the number of deaths directly attributable to armed conflict in 2002. There were 172,000 war deaths worldwide. The majority of territories recorded none; the deaths shown here occurred in only 80 of the 200 territories and 70% of them occurred in just nine territories.

Human poverty

Human poverty

The size of each territory shows the overall level of poverty, quantified as the population of the territory multiplied by the Human Poverty Index. The index is used by the UNDP to measure the level of poverty in different territories. It attempts to capture all elements of poverty, such as life expectancy and adult literacy. The highest index scores are in central Africa; the lowest in Japan.

International emigrants


The size of each territory indicates the number of international emigrants giving it as their place of origin. The perspective is influenced by the absolute size of populations in the source countries.

Aircraft travel

Aircraft travel

Some people fly hundreds of thousands of kilometres a year while others have never been in an aeroplane. In this map, the size of each territory indicates the total distance flown by aircraft registered there. Civilian aircraft currently fly 25bn km a year - the equivalent of going round the world 630,000 times.

Nuclear power

Nuclear Power

The size of each territory indicates the amount of electricity generated in nuclear power plants. Only 30 out of 200 territories produce power in this way - and of those 30, 17 are in Europe. In 2002, Sweden produced the most nuclear power followed by France. NO nuclear power is generated in any of the territories in Central Africa, Northern Africa or Asia-Pacific and Australasia.

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