Even as a child I had a weakness for globes: I needed an extra thick pencil case because my favorite pencil sharpener was a metal mini-globe.

And the coolest item in my children's room was a melon-sized globe with a light function.

If you switched on the light, you saw a boundless world with brown mountain ranges, yellow deserts, green rainforests and blue oceans.

The political borders were not illuminated.

Each country was drawn in a different color - except for the Federal Republic and GDR, which were both colored the same pink, and the border between them was not drawn through, but dashed.

For hours I occupied myself with the sphere, clearly understood the division of Germany, and quickly learned where Uganda and Uruguay are.

But the most important thing seemed to me to be the realization that a globe can clear up false worldviews: For example, Europe was not the center of the world on my flare, although it was always shown that way on the world map at school.


And Greenland was much smaller on the three-dimensional globe than in the two-dimensional atlas - on paper the arctic island was represented four times as large as the equatorial India due to the distortion of the projection, but in reality the Indian subcontinent is much larger than Greenland.

Russia and the USA are artificially inflated in the atlas

A globe is also helpful today for the classification of supposed world powers: Russia, for example, is artificially inflated in every atlas and appears there (and in our heads) larger than all of Africa, but in fact the country is only a little more than half the size of the continent .

And in terms of area, the United States (excluding Alaska) is just about the size of Australia - but the USA is still three times as large on classic world maps.

It is astonishing that the ex-US president has not banned globes as part of his “Make America great again” campaign.


On top of that, a globe is an effective remedy for wanderlust.

Thanks to my illuminated globe, I decided as a toddler when I was on my way to Japan in a mental journey that I would later definitely visit this distant country that had given me the game console (which I succeeded a few times).

Now, in Corona times, I sometimes turn my globe and type with my eyes closed - I want to go to the place where my finger lands after the pandemic.

Poland came out first, and the South Seas on the second attempt.

Boundaries on the globe show a view of the world

Globes are also great for thinking about boundaries.

Fortunately, the dashed line that still divides Germany on my childhood globe has disappeared.

But Yugoslavia is gone and criss-crossed by new lines.


I recently bought an American globe from the 1940s that not only shows independent colonies such as Belgian Congo or Netherland Indies, but also countries that no longer exist: Manchukuo, for example, a Japanese puppet state in China at the time.

On this old globe Tannu Tuva is marked as a separate state

Source: Sönke Krüger

Or Tannu Tuwa, located between Mongolia and the Soviet Union - at that time a satellite of the USSR, incorporated by Stalin in 1944, now part of Russia as the Republic of Tuva.

Or Tibet: this country was later annexed by the People's Republic of China;

on today's globes, which only show entire states, Tibet is obliterated.

Also on the globe I brought back from my last trip to China, bought in a school supplies store.

The globe shows the world through the glasses of the Chinese Politburo: Not only is mainland China tinged pink there, but also Taiwan, which Beijing claims as a breakaway province.

There is no maritime border between China and Taiwan.

On a globe from China, not only is mainland China tinged pink, but Taiwan too

Source: Sönke Krüger

But there is a dashed line that runs in the shape of a horseshoe on the edge of the South China Sea off the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines - and shows the entire body of water as Chinese territory.

It's a shame that this globe has no light function.

Therefore, like I was a child, the Chinese students cannot simply make the borders disappear at the push of a button.

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Source: Welt am Sonntag