In order to represent the curved surface of the earth on a two-dimensional map, a map projection is needed. Since this cannot be done without distortion, there are many map projections, each with it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Basemap provides 24 different map projections. Some are global, some can only represent a portion of the globe. When a Basemap class instance is created, the desired map projection must be specified, along with information about the portion of the earth’s surface that the map projection will describe. There are two basic ways of doing this. One is to provide the latitude and longitude values of each of the four corners of the rectangular map projection region. The other is to provide the lat/lon value of the center of the map projection region along with the width and height of the region in map projection coordinates. The class variable supported_projections is a dictionary containing information about all the projections supported by Basemap. The keys are the short names (used with the projection keyword to define a projection when creating a Basemap class instance), and the values are longer, more descriptive names. The class variable projection_params is a dictionary that provides a list of parameters that can be used to define the properties of each projection. Following are examples that illustrate how to set up each of the supported projections. Note that many map projection possess one of two desirable properties – they can be equal-area (the area of features is preserved) or conformal (the shape of features is preserved). Since no map projection can have both at the same time, many compromise between the two. Source.