Feb 242014

I was discussing just how big Africa is with the wiff the other day, and how the standard map projections get proportions all wrong, making Africa appear to be roughly the size of, say, South America, which it is of course not (with Africa clocking in at over 30 million square kilometers and South America at under 18 million). And I was also thinking about how little land shows up in the Southern Hemisphere, and what portion of that land was African. You know, idle geography question. The sort that in my salad days I used to argue about incessantly and pointlessly with anyone who would engage. You know, for fun. And the sort that the Internet excels at answering before a lamb can manage to shake his tail twice, which has ruined my fun. Or changed it, at any rate.

However this question doesn’t appear to be easily answered through search engines. So I have to do some of my own calculations. Earth has just shy of 150 million square kilometers of land. Now, turning to possibly disreputable sources, apparently 32.71% of Earth’s land is found in the Southern Hemisphere. Which means approximately 49 million square kilometers of land is found in the Southern Hemisphere. Africa has, as noted before, north of 30 million square kilometers. And “approximately one third” is found in the Southern Hemisphere, so apparently we’ve got about 10 million square kilometers of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere. Which represents a little more than 20%.

Where’s the rest, you ask? About 90% of South America’s 17.8 million square kilometers (or approximately 16 million), all of Antarctica (clocking in a 14 million), and all of Australia (at 8.6 million). Which leaves less than a million square kilometers as yet unaccounted for. Chalk it up to various islands. [Although, oddly, the second-largest island in the world, New Guinea, as well as Timor and a number of other large islands, were already included in the Australian continental area. Australia really is pretty small, isn’t it?] Or parts of islands. Think Indonesia-occupied (wholly or partly) islands. Approximately half of Borneo (or 372K km^2) and half of Sumatra (237K) are located in the Southern, along with all of Java (139K), most of Sulawesi (160K), and a whole host of other, smaller islands. Or think New Zealand‘s island chain (268K). Or Fiji (18K). Or any other smallish South Pacific island.

Problem solved.

 Posted by at 10:22 am