The True Size and Importance of Africa (Map) by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada on 10.13.10 Science & Technology Image: Kai Krause, Public Domain/CC Don't Overlook Africa! Because of the way flat maps distort the size of countries (the closer they are to the poles, the more distorted they are), most people don't really know just how big the African continent is. This leads many people - and the smart and powerful aren't immune to this - to underestimate Africa's importance. The map above shows just how wrong our perception can be (unless we've already seen a map like this before). It shows that you could fit the whole USA, China, India, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, and Eastern Europe, inside of Africa and still have some room left. We're All Inter-Connected Africa matters a lot because of the number of people who live there (about 1 billion as of 2005, with projections of 2 billion by 2050), but also because of the number of indigenous animal and plant species, because of the vast expanses of land that aren't being protected, because of the huge ecosystems that are uniquely found there, because of the impact that it can have on the global climate (especially deforestation and desertification), because of all the solar power potential and other natural resources, etc. It is one of the key regions that needs to improve on many levels for the welfare of its people and to safeguard the integrity of our planet's life-support systems. Africa is too often the forgotten continent, but it shouldn't be, and humanitarian problems should make us forget environmental issues because both go hand in hand. The degradation of the environment will affect the most vulnerable people there. You can see a HUGE version of the map here.