The first globe was created by a German mapmaker named Martin Behaim in 1492. He was inspired by the discoveries of Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer who suggested that the Earth and its surrounding planets were round, not flat. He also proposed that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe, as many people thought. Behaim called his globe an 'Erdapfel' or 'Earth Apple'.
The word 'globe' comes from the Latin word 'globus', meaning 'round mass' or 'sphere'. A globe is the only geographical representation that has negligible distortion over large areas. All flat maps are created using a map projection that inevitably introduces an increasing amount of distortion, the larger the area that the map shows. A typical scale for a globe of the Earth is roughly 1:40 million.
Sometimes a globe has relief, showing topography. In the case of a globe of the Earth the elevations are exaggerated, otherwise they would be hardly visible. Most modern globes are also imprinted with parallels and meridians so that one can tell the coordinates of a specific point on the surface of the planet.