An area equivalent to the size of Greece

A recent BBC News article mentions "the discovery of a vast 'microbial mat', covering an area equivalent to the size of Greece".

It's unusual to see Greece used as a unit of comparison or measurement. I find it harder to gauge the area of Greece than, say, France, because of Greece's irregular shape and large number of islands. Or are we only talking about mainland Greece?

Interestingly, the country closest in size to Greece is England, with an area of 130,395km2 as opposed to Greece's 131,957km2.

So why didn't BBC News use England as a unit of comparison rather than Greece? I'm fairly sure that a) more British people will read the article in question than Greek people, and b) British people have a better idea of the area of England than the area of Greece.

Or would using England as a unit of comparison be more confusing to readers who are neither Greek nor British? When I taught English as a foreign language in Russia, many of my students were hazy on the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom.

5 comments:

Garwoofoo said...

I still struggle to intuitively remember the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom... and I live there.

I have to say the full title "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" to remember that one is a subset of the other, and what the difference is.

Harry Campbell said...

http://snipurl.com/wales-scale

arnie said...

The BBC article refers to "Chilean researchers" who apparently wrote the report. Perhaps they made the comparison with Greece.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Garwoofoo: me too!

Arnie: maybe, but why would Chilean researchers make a comparison with Greece? Nicaragua (for example) is closer to home, and pretty much the same size as Greece and the microbial mat.

Riz said...

The linked article states the experiment lasted for 10 years and included scientists from 80 countries.

I expect the scientists choose Greece as it was the closest match in documented land area to the area they calculated for the microbial mat and were not influenced by intended readership.

We do require scientists to be accurate so I can't fault them for blindly picking Greece.

The BBC reported the news as it had been given to them. Admittedly they could have converted that to other examples for their own readership such as quantity of football pitches or Asda superstores.