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The Globe

Published: August 21, 2004

Updated: March 2, 2012

antique map A globe is the most accurate representation of the earth simply because the earth is round, as is a globe. Imagine tearing the surface off of your globe and laying it out flat on a table. The paper would end up with rips starting at the center with widening gaps as the tears radiated outward. It is because of this that Antarctica on a flat map appears across the entire bottom, when in fact it is basically round. The same goes for the "Greenland effect," which is why Greenland, being so close to the North Pole, appears on many maps much larger than it actually is.

The "Flat World" Myth

The popular belief nowadays that the concensus near the time of Christopher Columbus that the world was flat is a myth. It was generally accepted by 1492 that the world was, in fact, round. In 1492, Martin Behaim, a German cartographer, made the oldest extant globe. Years later, the Dutch would become famous for globe-making skills.

The first known person to hypothesize that the world was round was the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes (c. 250 B.C.). He compared the noon shadow at midsummer between two cities. Knowing the distance between those two cities and by calculating the angle of the shadows in both locations, Eratosthenes was able to apply geometric theory to determine the size of the earth. He determined the diameter of the earth was 7,850 miles, which is remarkably close to the actual 7,926 miles (at the equator).

Determining the Age of a Globe

The following is a list of events that will aid you in determining the age of a globe.
1523 Sweden independence
1648 Netherlands independence
1650 Oman independence
1707 England and Scotland agreed to join as Great Britain
1768 Nepal independence
1776 United States independence
1804 Haiti independence
1806 Liechtenstein independence
1810 Chile, Columbia, Mexico independence
1811 Paraguay, Venezuela independence
1816 Argentina independence
1821 Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru independence
1822 Brazil, Ecuador independence
1825 Bolivia, Uruguay independence
1829 Greece independence
1830 Belgium independence
1839 Luxembourg independence
1844 Dominican Republic independence
1847 Liberia independence
1867 Canada independence
1870 Italy unification
1871 German Empire unification
1877 Romania independence
1878 Bulgaria independence
1898 Philippines independence
1901 Australia independence
1902 Cuba independence
1903 Panama independence
1905 Norway independence
1908 Bulgaria independence
1910 Union of South Africa independence
1912 Albania independence
1914 Panama Canal opens
1917 Finland independence
1918 Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia independence
1919 Afghanistan independence
1920 Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia independence
1921 Irish Free State semi-independence
1922 Russia changes to Soviet Union, Egypt independence
1923 Turkey independence
1928 Capital city of China changes from Peiping to Peking
1929 Yugoslavia name change
1932 Saudi Arabia, Iraq independence
1935 Persia changes to Iran
1936 Italy invades Ethiopia
1939 Germany annexes Austria & Czechoslovakia
1946 Jordan, Syria independence, Philippines independence
1947 India, Pakistan independence
1948 Israel independence, Burma, Ceylon independence
1949 Indonesia independence, East and West Germany created
1951 Libya independence
1953 Cease fire line divides North and South Korea
1954 North and South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia independence
1956 Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan independence
1957 Malaya independence
1958 Guinea independence
1960 Major break-up of colonial Africa: French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, Belgian Congo, and other territories end, creating over 15 independent countries, including Niger, Chad, Somalia, Congo, Nigeria
1961 Kuwait independence, Tanganyika independence
1962 Algeria independence, Uganda independence, Jamaica independence
1963 Kenya independence, Malaysia independence
1964 Zambia, Malawi independence, Tanzania independence
1965 Singapore independence
1966 Botswana, Lesotho, Guyana independence
1967 French Somaliland changes to Afars & Issas (Fr.)
1968 Equatorial Guinea independence
1970 Muscat and Oman changes to Oman
1971 Congo changes to Zaire, Bangladesh independence
1972 Ceylon changes to Sri Lanka
1973 Bahamas independence
1974 Guinea-Bissau independence
1975 Angola, Mozambique independence, Suriname independence
1976 Vietnam unifies, Indonesia annexes Portuguese Timor
1977 Djibouti independence
1978 Dominica independence
1979 St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines independence
1980 Zimbabwe independence
1981 Belize, Guatemala, Antigua and Barbudaindependence
1984 Upper Volta changes name to Burkina Faso
1986 Ivory Coast becomes Côte d’Ivoire
1989 Burma becomes Myanmar
1990 West and East Germany merge into Germany, North and South Yemen merge into Yemen, Namibia independence
1991 Soviet Union dissolves into 15 new countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
1992 Yugoslavia dissolves into 5 new countries:Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Yugoslavia
1993 Czechoslovakia divides into Czech Republic and Slovakia
1994 South Africa territory Walvis Bay becomes part of Namibia
1997 Zaire becomes Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hong Kong possession transfers from United Kingdom to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Western Samoa becomes Samoa
1998 Nunavut Territory created from part of Northwest Territories (Canada)
1999 Macao transferred from Portugal to China
2002 East Timor independence
2003 Yugoslavia divides into Serbia and Montenegro
2006 Montenegro was part of Serbia and Montenegro (also known as Yugoslavia) but gained independence after a referendum. (June 3)
2006 Serbia was part of Serbia and Montenegro (also known as Yugoslavia) became its own entity after Montenegro split. Kosovo may also gain independence from Serbia in the future.

Globe Color

Some globes are colored tan to be antique in appearance and are preferred when the globe is to be used as a decorative accessory because the more neutral tan color complements almost any home or office décor. The tan background or ocean comes from the look of a reproduction of an ancient parchment. A blue globe, also considered political, have the ocean areas in a blue (water) color and usually consist of highly contrasting, colorful, political boundaries.

Celestial Globes

Instead of depicting land and water masses, a celestial globe shows the location of stars as seen from the Earth. However, the planets, Sun, and Moon are not included in this map of the night sky. Different kinds of celestial globes are available, such as an illuminated "constellation" globe that reveals the 88 constellations as well as various nebulae and stars. Features of celestial globes include:

  • Facilitates learning about space-to-Earth correlations
  • Adjustable so that users can see where certain stars are located at specific times of the day or night
  • Equipped with light sensors that activate in semi-darkness
  • Doubles as a unique nightlight and educational tool for astronomy buffs
Virtual Globes

Virtual globes are online, 3D representations of the Earth or another planet, whether real or fictional. Users of virtual globes have the ability to manipulate the globe by changing the angle of perception and moving freely around the virtual globe. Geographical features such as valleys, mountains, and rivers appear realistic when compared to traditional globes, allowing users a more intense experience when exploring various areas of the world.

GPS devices are connectable to virtual globes, which may help in determining the best navigational route from one place to another due to the inclusion of concrete details. Some virtual globe websites offered on the Web include:

Making Globes

Printing a paper map and gluing the map to a wooden globe was the method globe makers once used to produce the traditional globe. Usually, the paper was cut into elongated, slightly oval strips to avoid crumpling or stretching when the map paper was finally applied to the globe. When these paper strips came together at an "antipodal" point on top and at the bottom of the globe, a geometrically accurate view of the Earth allowed students and others to learn about the Earth as a whole.

Currently created from thermoplastic material, globes today begin their life as flat half-circles already printed with a somewhat distorted version of hemisphere maps of the Earth. Once placed into a plastic injection machine, the disks develop into two, separate globe halves that are later attached to produce a complete globe.

Queens, New York is home to the world's largest globe. Called the Unisphere, this 12-story high, stainless steel globe measures 120 feet in diameter. Constructed by the American Bridge Company in the early 1960s to commemorate early accomplishments in the Space Age, the Unisphere weighs between 700,000 and 900,000 pounds and sits on an inverted tripod base weighing 100 tons.

Circling the Unisphere are stainless steel rings representing three icons of the Space Age: John Glenn, who was the first American in orbit around the Earth; Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space; and Telstar, the first communications satellite actively working in orbit around the Earth.


  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisphere
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_globe
  • http://www.worldglobesforsale.com/celestial-globe
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe

Click here for more globe information

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