When creating a line in Google Maps, it will be drawn straight between the two points, without accounting for curvature of the Earth. So, while showing the shortest path on the flattened map of the globe, it does not reflect the actual shortest path between those two points.

This can be seen quite clearly if you try drawing a point between London and New York and then try using the new google.com/flights and search for a flight between those cites. The map that Google Flights shows has accounted (at least roughly) for the curvature of the Earth, and so the line between London and New York is actually a curve.

My question is, is there any way to draw such lines myself in Google Maps?

  • 1
    I think that curved line it's a graphical depiction of a take off-landing airplane trajectory (route) rather than the curvature of the globe, and it's a pretty standard airline routes representation (e.g.: simairline.net/alitalia/routemap_domestic.gif).
    – Alex
    Sep 14, 2011 at 11:47
  • 2
    No, if you draw the same line in Google Earth, you'll see that it takes a different path when you haven't flattened out the globe to a two dimensional map.
    – Kris
    Sep 14, 2011 at 12:42

3 Answers 3


Such lines are called geodesics and this site offers to draw them in Google Maps. See also this question: Is a straight line on google earth or google maps geodesic?


If you enable the Map Labs, and active Distance Measurement Tool, you will be able to measure a distance between two points, and draw a earth-curved line.

Here is an example:

enter image description here


It is now possible to do this as standard in a Google Map. When drawing a polyline via the Google Maps Javascript API, set the "geodesic" option on the polyline to true. The polyline will then be shown as curved on the 2d surface, following the shortest path on the 3d globe rather than the shortest path on the 2d map.

The reference for the polyline options is available on the Google Maps JavaScript API V3 Reference.

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