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My father, being something of a map collector and unusually for a girl perhaps, I was brought up with maps. In the bedroom I shared with my brother, the jewel in the crown was an enormous, framed map of the world, which had been acquired at a farm clearance sale. Being a pre-war map, the colonies of the British Empire, such as the Indian sub-continent, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Rhodesia were all proudly daubed in a bloody, pink crimson. On light, summer evenings, I lay in bed, tracing the contours of the continents with my eyes, imagining what these far away places might be like and dreaming of following in Marco Polo's footsteps. It was therefore with some trepidation, and a sense of nostalgia, that I unfurled my Maps International, Political World Wall Map from it's protective and somewhat resistant, postal tube. I laid it out on the bed, holding down the curly corners with books and cushions to inspect the goods.
At 1380cm x 820cm, it is certainly big enough to fill a large area of wall, although without the aid of a magnifying glass, you would struggle to appreciate many of the finer details. It is laminated, meaning that any wayward deposits of jam or sticky, children's paw prints could easily be removed but the weight of the paper, which I would estimate to be no more than 120gms, renders it vulnerable to tearing.
Obviously, the Empire is no longer represented but, quick to confirm the map's modernity, I scurried to Kosovo and found it present and correct however, the newly divided Balkan peninsular does not fit the space so comfortably as Yugoslavia once did. The great benefit of a world map is that you can see everything together and make comparisons between countries and land masses. I was impressed by the enormity of Russia and Canada but surprised to see that India seemed to have shrunk from the size of my childhood memories. Perhaps everything seems bigger when you are a child but I was equally shocked to see that Kazakhstan seemed bigger than India. Doubtful, I started checking the land area of the countries on Wikipedia. In the case of these counties, the sizes were just about plausible but then I noticed that Iceland had grown to the size of Poland. Feeling a sense of indignation on behalf of my host country, I checked again and reassuringly, found this not to be the case. Then, studying the map again, I found the explanation. The lines of longitude and latitude are curved to give a sense of the spherical nature of the Earth but the effect of this is to elongate the cells towards the poles and compress those at the equator. Thus, Nigeria and Sudan had done rather badly whilst the likes of Iceland and Korea seemed to have profited. I found this optical illusion somewhat distracting and in this instance, I prefer to be a member of the flat earth society.
I investigated the map further to familiarise myself with all of its features. Although it is a political map showing countries, there are also some relief aspects highlighting mountain ranges. This is particularly useful in showing the Ural mountain range dividing Europe and Asia. A legend, situated somewhere towards the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, reveals that cities are indicated in different sized, red squares or circles depending on population. Although this is a useful feature, the difference in square size from a 20 million plus population and a 10 million one, is hard to spot. Similarly, the highest point in each country and continent is identified by a triangle but you'd need sharp eyes and considerable patience to find them. An easier aspect to work with is a sea depth indicator and I soon found myself, in true Anorak mode, looking for the deepest spot which currently sits at around 8,000 metres in the Pacific, but I hope to find a deeper one after further study. This task is made easy by the sea colour in pastel shades of blue, (deepest darkest) which to my relief, was not the lurid turquoise found on older maps and on washing machines in 1960's launderettes. There are also small clocks which indicate time zones. These are placed at the bottom of the map illustrating different time zones in two hourly intervals.
All in all, I'm very pleased with my map, although at £19.99, it's a little pricey. I'm thinking about how I might frame it or hang it. I've a plan to put it on the wall in the bedroom and lie in bed on a light summer's evening, tracing the contours of the continents with my eyes, imagining far away places and dreaming of following in Marco Polo's footsteps.
Available in 4 sizes: 2040mm (w) x 1245mm (h) / 1360mm (w) x 830mm (h) / 1030mm (w) x 610mm (h) / 680mm (w) x 430mm (h)