No one map can present the whole world without distortion, but we do our best....
Our One World Map, an example of classical European cartographic style, rotates and tilts the globe in three positions to show geographic relationships in a way that no single view can. Countries of the World includes country listings by population. Landforms of the World emphasizes the dramatic patterns of Earth's tectonic history, with little type beyond country names and boundaries, while our new Physical Map of the World includes very comprehensive labeling. Most of these World Maps are now available in two or three sizes.
Map projections are the formulas for showing, on a flat piece of paper or screen, areas of the spherical earth-- or, as for all the maps shown here, the whole earth. It's impossible to flatten a curved three-dimensional object without distorting it, so the choice of projections is the selection of which distortions are acceptable. Maps can represent areas accurately-- "equal-area projections"-- or shapes accurately-- "conformal projections"-- but not both. Raven has chosen two projections which don't do either, but which have compensating virtues.
Our One World Map is a set of three "orthographic" projections: what the earth would look like if you saw it from space, progressively rotated and tilted so that most of the globe is clearly shown. Shapes and areas are increasingly distorted around the edges of each view, and in each view half the globe is completely hidden. We see objects that way in the real world, and the effect is not bothersome. This is the most "realistic" view, but has obvious practical limitations.
Our other world maps are all built on the Robinson Projection, which compromises between shape and area on the basis of visual acceptability. (Robinson tweaked his projection until each further adjustment looked worse, then called it good). This mathematical inconsistency bothers purists, but the result seems to us better than any of the alternatives
These maps suffer from extreme distortions at very high latitudes but most of the world is shown with easily recognizable shapes and an acceptable range of area exaggeration. New Zealand and Alaska are noticeably stretched, the unavoidable result of the conventional central meridian through the Greenwich Observatory. We have considered bringing out a "Pacific-centered" version of these maps, which would show shapes more accurately in Western North America and in all of East Asia and Oceania. However, distortions in Europe and Africa would then become objectionable. In cartography, problems are easier to relocate than they are to solve.