We see them and we use them often in our everyday life whenever we travel to new location or place, but what is a map? Map is a representation of the spatial distribution of phenomena or objects. For example, a map may show the location of cities, road networks, rivers, or natural resources in a given region. Maps present their spatial information to the viewer at a reduced scale. They are created by Cartographers. Cartography refers to the study of map making and as well as “The Art of Map Making”. Maps represent information by using symbols that are identified in a legend of the map.
Map and Globe
A globe (model of the earth) is a map. Globes are some of the most accurate maps that currently exist because the earth is a three-dimensional object that is close to a spherical. Maps lose their accuracy because they are actually projections of an area or the entire Earth. Every Map Projection has some distortion.
Advantages of maps over globes:
- Maps are more compact than the globe
- They are easy to store and cheaper to produce
- Maps can hold a various range of scales
- Can easily be viewed on different sized screens
- They can show larger portions of an area at once
How are Maps used?
- To locate places on the earth surface.
- To find patterns of distribution.
- To discover relationships between completely different phenomena by analyzing map information.
Types of Maps
There are many types of maps and these are multiplied by the industries and applications for which they are used, that it can be difficult to classify them into groups. A common classification system divides maps into two categories: general and thematic.
General maps These are the maps which show physical features of an area. They summaries the actual landscape.
Thematic maps those which describe on specific features using the landscape as a background.
Maps can be either general or thematic, depending on the intent of the cartographer. For example, a cartographer may produce a vegetation map for a particular area or zone, showing the distribution of various plant communities. In the recent year, thematic maps are growing in importance and becoming more readily available. Below is the list of common types of maps currently in use with a short description.
Political Map is referred to maps that show boundaries of countries, state, county’s, small and large towns and cities and they also include significant water bodies typically with blue colors. An example of Political Map would show states and their borders along with the country international border.
Physical map is focused on the geography of the area and they generally show features like mountains, rivers, and lakes. Typical colors are Blue for water features, Green for lower elevation and Brown for high elevations. Features are rivers, mountains and lakes are usually labelled.
A Topographic map shows height that you can measure, it is similar to a physical map that shows different physical landscape features. This type of maps may use contour lines instead of colors to show changes in the landscape. Contour lines shown on topographic maps are generally spaced at regular intervals to show elevation changes.
A climate map is a depiction of the climate of an area. These maps are used to show climatic zones of a specific area based on the temperature. These maps normally use colors to show different climatic areas. Map Legend helps to identify each climatic zone based on colors.
A roadmap is currently one of the most widely used map types. These maps show major and minor highways and roads as well as other transport features like airports and ports. They can also show city locations and points of interest such as parks, hotels, grounds, open area and monuments. Generally, Red color is used to show Major highways on a roadmap and are often larger than other roads, while lighter color and narrower line are used for minor roads.
A thematic map is a map that focuses on a particular(single) theme or special purposes such as population density or average annual income of a particular area. They can portray natural features like rivers, cities, and highways in the background.
How Maps Are Made ?
Before creating a map, cartographers decide what space they require to show and what kind of data they require to show the knowledge. They take the requirements of their audience, into account and also the main purpose of the map to be created. These choices confirm what quite projection and scale they have, and what varieties of details area unit enclosed.
The language of the map is one of the most common issue a cartographer should take into consideration. Lines of latitude, Longitude and meridian unit mathematically premeditated on a flat surface. Choices unit drawn in their acceptable location. Before the use of advanced computer and printing techniques, maps were drawn by hand. Cartographers used to draw, the map on a coated plastic sheet with an etching tool, scraping away the colored coating to go away clear, sharp lines. Many totally different sheets of plastic were stratified on top of every different to feature shading and place names. The plastic sheets were used to create a metal printing plate, or proof, for publication of the map.
Today, most mapping is finished with the help of computers. The coordinates of every purpose area unit entered into computer. By feeding every new information into the computer or by deleting previous information, any map changes are often created quickly and simply.