Robinson Projection


A Pseudocylindrical projection that preserves neither scale nor area, but which presents an aesthetically pleasing view of the entire world.


The Robinson projection is unlike most other projections in that it is not constructed by a mathematical formula used to transform coordinates systems. It is instead constructed by reference to a table of transformation parameters for meridians and parallels with an interpolation for locations between those given in the table. The table was created empirically to achieve a pleasing effect when the entire world is displayed.




Not true anywhere.




Not free of distortion anywhere but the severe distortion near outer meridians at high latitudes seems less objectionable than in other pseudocylindrical projections.




Overview maps of the entire world intended to present thematic data and not intended to be used for distance or area measurement. The Robinson projection is often recommended as a "good compromise" projection for world thematic maps.




Created by Arthur Robinson at the request of a commercial atlas publisher in the 1960’s. Computer assisted cartography played an essential role in the trial-and-error development of the table of transformation parameters and so represents an early use of computers in the evolution of cartography. Although this is a very popular projection for world thematic maps, it is not defined either in John Parr Snyder’s famous USGS books on map projections or in Robinson’s own "Elements of Cartography." The only technical definitions for it occur in two obscure papers: Robinson’s original announcement of it and Snyder’s publication of a small paper in a briefly published, now defunct journal reporting a computational algorithm for implementing the Robinson projection. Manifold’s Robinson projection is based on the John Parr Snyder algorithm.




Specify the center longitude to center the map projection. This is normally the 0 meridian.


Special Credits



Tau Rho Alpha


The Manifold team would like to thank Tau Rho Alpha, a prolific cartographer over many years with USGS for his assistance in helping us gain access to the algorithms used in the Robinson projection. A representative of our team voyaged to the Menlo Park USGS facility and was distressed to find the only copies of Snyder's paper were located at a different USGS location. Mr. Alpha generously took a stranger under his wing and helped us track down the data we needed.


This is but one example of a life of generous outreach to help young and old, expert and novice alike to gain greater awareness of cartography. Tau Rho Alpha has not only helped experts learn to use projections better, he is the prime mover behind an effort to help school children learn geography, land forms and geology by creating their own globes and land form models from paper cutouts.   His alphalandforms project provides paper patterns that may be cut out by students and folded into models that illustrated various land forms and geologic structures.