How Scales can Change Perspection
There are two types of scales in the world of geography. They are the scale on the map, and the scale of analysis. The scales on the map shows the distance of the real world comparing to the map, like how many kilometers are there in the real world is compared to on a centimeter on a map. The scales of analysis is the spatial extent of something. Today, in this blog, we’re going to focus on the scale of analysis and how different scales can affect a person’s perception of a place.
Scales are useful yet deceiving tools, just like maps. They are actually the tools that made maps deceiving. Different scales show different kinds and amount of information, the smaller the scale, the less information is shown, but there is a wider area, while the larger the scale, the more information, but the smaller the area. When you look at a broader scale, your perception of the place will be pretty general, but as the scale gets smaller, your perception of the place will change.
For example, if you look at Madagascar’s religion at the global scale, its religion would be generalized as a place with traditional religion.
But when you look at the country scale, you can see that there are also other religions in the country, such as Christianity and Islam. Those who are Muslim are concentrated more in the Northern part of Madagascar, while those who are Christian are found pretty much everywhere on Madagascar, its traditional religion are all over the island with no concentration point. The Muslims are usually found in the north because of the fiction of distance, it is closer to other Muslim countries. The reason why Christianity and Traditional religions seem to be everywhere could be that the native people of Madagascar who were converted to Christianity still kept some of their traditional religion, or that there are still parts of Madagascar that were not really looked at because of the forests, leaving the aboriginals to continue to practice their own religion without the influence of the Christians in the civilized areas. 55% of the population has traditional beliefs, 40% are Christians (both Catholic and Protestant, Protestant a little more than Catholic), and 5% Muslims.
Another factor that can be used is the GDP per capita of the place. When you look at the global scale, at Africa’s GDP per capita, which is $4,250 USD, and compare it to Europe’s GDP per capita, which is $33,393.75 USD, Africa’s GDP per capita is very low, making people think that the region is a very poor region full of poor people.
Now let’s look at the regional scale. Let’s split Africa to two regions, North Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. North Africa’s GDP per capita is $6,733 USD and Sub Saharan Africa’s GDP per capita is $3,792, this shows that not the whole Africa is poor as you think when you looked at it at the global scale. This also shows that the poorer region of Africa is at Sub Saharan Africa. North Africa isn’t as poor, it’s GDP per capita is even larger than the whole Africa’s average GDP per capita. The difference of GDP per capita of the two regions is probably because of the friction of distance, North Africa is closer to Europe and many other countries, which allows them to be able to trade and earn money through those nearby regions. Sub Saharan Africa is harder to get to because of the oceans and is more isolated to other regions than North Africa.
Let’s go closer and look at the country scale, When you look at Madagascar, whose GDP per capita is $1,000 USD, comparing to the richest country in Sub Saharan Africa, which is Equatorial Guinea with the GDP per capita of $25,700 USD, you’ll see that Madagascar’s GDP per capita is pretty low. But when comparing to the poorest country in the world, which is the Dominican Republic of the Congo with the GDP per capita of $400 USD, you’ll see that Madagascar is not the poorest, but its GDP per capita is still closer to DRC than to Equatorial Guinea, showing that Madagascar is one of the poorer countries in the region. You can also see that not all countries in Sub Saharan Africa is all poor, since Equatorial Guinea’s GDP per capita is higher than the average GDP per capita of the region.
Looking at the examples with Madagascar, you can see that different scales can change a person’s perception of a place. When you look at the GDP of Sub Saharan Africa, you’ll see that the place is technically pretty poor. But when you take a closer look at Madagascar, you’ll see that it is one of the poorest country in the world. You can also see that a country doesn’t only have one religion, but looking at it with a smaller scale, you can see that madagascar also have other religions other than traditional religions.