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What’s across the ocean from you when you’re at the beach, in 7 fascinating maps

By Weiyi (Dawn) Cai
August 3, 2015 at 10:11 a.m. EDT

When you're hanging out at the beach and you gaze off into the horizon, do you know what is across the ocean from you?

In ancient times, many people used to think that the world simply ended at the horizon, perhaps after a ring of dangerous dragons or sea monsters. Today we know better — but perhaps not that much better.

The following maps, inspired by a map by Eric Odenheimer, show the cities and countries that are at the same latitude across the ocean, for anywhere in the world.

The map below shows the Western Hemisphere. The colored bands on the right side show European countries in blue and African countries in red. You can see that Africa is huge, and Europe is a lot farther north than you might think.

On the left, Asian countries are shown in yellow, while the countries in Oceania are below them in blue. Australia ends up about on par with Buenos Aires. (Note that none of these maps provide an exhaustive list of the world's countries).

The map below zooms in on the East Coast and adds some global cities for perspective.

If you're in New York, you're actually about the same latitude (a measure of how far north or south you are from the Equator) as sunny Madrid. Washington is roughly on par with Lisbon, Portugal. France is positioned even farther north, with Paris at a higher latitude than Quebec or Maine. And England and Ireland are farther north than even Newfoundland.

Much of the southern United States, starting with North Carolina, is on the same latitude as Africa. Casablanca, in Morocco, is about the same latitude as Atlanta, while Miami is level with Western Sahara.

Below is the same map for the West Coast. Beijing is roughly the same latitude as San Francisco, while Tokyo is level with Los Angeles. Shanghai and Taipei are at the same latitude as the Baja Peninsula, while Vancouver and Seattle sit at roughly the same latitude as Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.

Of course, there are a few different ways that you can look at the world like this. You could follow lines of latitude east around the globe, or you could follow them west. The maps below show what both of these options look like from the Northern Hemisphere and the colors we used for different continents.

Once we started playing this game, we had trouble stopping. Below is the same map for Asia. (Again, note that we're not including all of the world's countries.)

One of the fascinating things about this map is it gives you an idea of the size of countries like Somalia, Madagascar and Peru. They look larger here by comparison because the typical map projection that we use, the Mercator projection, makes Africa and South America look much smaller than they actually are.

And, finally, here is the same map for Africa. Brazil, Australia and Indonesia account for most of Africa's coasts.

Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly located Ulaanbaatar, San Jose, Cayenne and San Juan. The post has been updated.

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