The concept of north is “up” and south is “down” is a manmade idea. The only reason we perceive places to be geographically “up” or “down” is due to the composition of the conventional map. Some prime examples of how a map can change your perception of direction would be the early Egyptian maps that established the east as being on top and the early Muslim maps that positioned the south on top.
A beautifully designed version of a south-up, or upside down, map was made by Angus Hyland, a partner at the London office of Pentagram. Hyland had designed the map for the firm’s annual Christmas card but has since turned it into an interactive site with an online quiz.
The interactive map completely warps the idea of directionality. To play the game, you are tasked with naming cities and countries based on an out of context, zoomed in image of a random landmass or body of water that has been flipped in one way or another. Even if you’re a geography whiz you’ll still have a pretty difficult time.
As stated in a Pentagram blog post, the point of the game is to show just how arbitrary map orientations are:
The booklet and quiz mischievously play with the rigidity of the commonly accepted world map, which is increasingly at odds with modern GPS software that allows us to manipulate the space around us with a pinch of our fingers.
Change your perspective and test your geography smarts here.