© 2005-2016 Geology.com. All Rights Reserved. Images, code, and content on this website are property of Geology.com and are protected by copyright law. Geology.com does not grant permission for any use, republication, or redistribution. Images, code and content owned by others are marked on the pages where they appear. The map above is a political map of the world centered on Europe and Africa. It shows the location of most of the world’s countries and includes their names where space allows. Representing a round earth on a flat map requires some distortion of the geographic features no matter how the map is done. We have used a Mercator projection for this map because it is the projection most commonly used in schools. On this map, geographic boundaries that trend north-south appear as vertical lines, geographic boundaries that trend east-west appear as horizontal lines. This type of projection causes a minimum of country-shape distortion near the equator, a small amount of distortion at mid-latitudes, but extreme distortion near the poles. For that reason, the map does not extend to the north and south poles. Google Earth is a free download that you can use to view close-up satellite images of Earth on your desktop computer or mobile phone. The map on the bottom of this page is a terrain relief image of the world with the boundaries of major countries shown as white lines. It includes the names of the world’s oceans and the names of major bays, gulfs and seas. Lowest elevations are shown as a dark green color with a gradient from green to dark brown to gray as elevation increases. This allows the major mountain ranges and lowlands to be clearly visible. This map is also a Mercator projection centered on Europe and Africa. A scale of miles is not shown on these maps because the scale changes with distance north and south of the equator. Scale is highly exaggerated as distance from the equator increases. We were able to show 132 world countries on the map at the top of this page. The United States Department of State recognizes 195 independent countries. We were not able to show every one of these countries on the political map above because many of them were too small to be drawn at this scale. You can find a complete list of countries recognized by the State Department on their ‘ Copyright information: The images on this page were composed by Angela King and Brad Cole and are copyright by Geology.com © 2008. These images are not available for use beyond our websites. If you would like to share them with others please link to this page. The maps were produced using digital vector graphics licensed from and copyright by Map Resources © 2008. Source.