(ELI5) Why is North and South America always on the left of maps and referred to as the West. Could easily be the East.


Do maps of the world in Europe Africa Asia show the Usa on the left as well?

In: Other

Mainly due to European centric history. Many of the old maps featured Europe prominently in the middle of the map. Gradually added more to the East(right). Then discovery of Americas on the left.

It’s because the early map designers wanted to put either Europe, Africa or the Atlantic Ocean in the middle.

For many years this was popular because it meant your main trade routes did not go off the edge of the map. Otherwise your route would go off the edge of the map and appear on the other side.

From an aesthetic point of view, if you put the America’s in the right hand side, the entire middle of the map would be the Pacific Ocean and that both looks terrible and wouldn’t be useful for navigation at the time.

Europe inherited the naming convention from Greece.
Europe is west of Greece, so it became the West.
The Middle East is east, but closer to Greece than the Far East.

Europe discovered the Americas by sailing to the west, so it made sense for them to draw their maps that way.

Also the Pacific ocean is much larger than the Atlantic so it made sense for them to put the divide where there was more empty space.
[There’s a lot of seemingly empty space right in the middle of the map when you put the Americas on the right](https://www.shutterstock.com/search/world+map+japan+illustration)