Introduction to Maps

A map is a simplified depiction of the whole or a part of the earth on a piece of paper. A map is drawn at a reduced scale. Cartography, being an art and science of map making, does include a series of processes that are common to all the maps.

The essentials or processes of map making are scale, map projection, map generalisation, map design and, map construction and production. The types of maps based on the scale are large scale maps and small scale maps. Large scale maps are cadastral maps and topographical maps. Small scale maps are wall maps and atlas maps.

On the basis of their functions, the maps can be classified as physical maps and cultural maps. Physical maps show natural features such as relief, geology, soil, drainage, climate and vegetation etc. Cultural maps show man-made features such as political boundaries, population distribution, transportation lines etc. Maps are used by geographers, planners and resource scientists for the measurement of distance, direction and area. Distance on the map is measured by using scale, thread and rotameter. Direction is measured with the help of a compass. Area on the map is measured by the means of regular pattern of square or with the help of an instrument known as polar planimeter. Thus, maps are an important tool in geography.

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