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Ask Mapman.

The ancient Greeks did not have the benefit of satellite photographs when they created maps of the world. Instead, they had to rely upon geometry (a branch of mathematics) and stories told to them by seafarers, merchants, and soldiers. As a result, their maps had many mistakes and discrepancies (differences).

Although present-day maps are more accurate than the ancient ones, our understanding of the world still stirs debate. That's because reference sources do not always report the same geographic information.

Inquiring readers help us understand why discrepancies occur.

Kyle H., and his eighth-grade classmates from Illinois, have found contradictory information about the size of China and the United States.

Q: Which country is larger in land area: China or the U.S.?

A: At JS, we use the Population Reference Bureau to determine a country's land area. According to the PRB, the U.S. is the third-largest country in the world and China is fourth. But not all sources agree with this ranking. For example, if surveyors did not add the area of the Great Lakes to the U.S. total, China would rank as the world's third-largest country, with the U.S. fourth.

Examine the area comparison map. Remember to check your data against a few sources.

CHINA 3,696,100 square miles

Contiguous U.S. 3,021,295 square miles

Total U.S. 3,117,196 square miles

China is clearly larger than the 48 states. But when compared to the entire U.S., it falls just short.

Be sure to print your name age, and question clearly. If we publish your question, you will win a poster-size map of the world!

MAIL: Mapman, Scholastic inc., 557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012

E-MAIL: mapman@scholastic.com

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Map lessons
Author:McMahon, Jim
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 14, 2003
Words:293
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