World Map: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Planet's Geography and History
Map of the World: A Brief Guide
A map of the world is a graphical representation of most or all of the surface of Earth on a flat surface. It can be used for various purposes, such as education, navigation, communication, planning, and entertainment. A map of the world can show us the sizes, shapes, locations, and features of countries, continents, oceans, rivers, mountains, and more. It can also help us understand the diversity and interconnectedness of our planet.
However, making a map of the world is not an easy task. Earth is a three-dimensional sphere, while a map is a two-dimensional plane. This means that any map of the world will inevitably distort some aspects of reality, such as area, shape, distance, or direction. Different mapmakers have different goals and preferences when creating a map of the world, which may result in different perspectives and interpretations. Furthermore, not all parts of the world have been explored or mapped accurately or completely, especially in the past.
map of the world
In this article, we will explore some of the types, projections, and history of world maps. We will see how they reflect human knowledge and curiosity about our world.
Types of World Maps
There are many types of world maps that can be classified based on their purpose, content, and presentation. Some of the common types are political maps, physical maps, and thematic maps.
Political maps show administrative borders such as countries or states, as well as human settlement such as cities or towns. They often use different colors or symbols to indicate different political units or regions. Political maps can help us identify and locate different places on Earth and understand their relationships with each other.
One example of a political map is the one shown below. It uses a Mercator projection (which we will explain later) to show the countries of the world centered on Europe and Africa. It also shows some major cities and water bodies.
Physical maps show geographical features such as mountains, valleys, plains, deserts, forests, lakes, rivers, oceans, islands, etc. They often use different colors or shades to indicate different elevation levels or landforms. Physical maps can help us appreciate the diversity and beauty of Earth's natural environment and understand its physical characteristics.
One example of a physical map is the one shown below. It uses a Robinson projection (which we will explain later) to show the terrain relief image of the world with the boundaries of major countries shown as white lines. It also shows some names of oceans and seas.
map of the world with countries and capitals
map of the world showing continents and oceans
map of the world poster for kids
map of the world scratch off where you've been
map of the world puzzle for adults
map of the world black and white printable
map of the world canvas wall art
map of the world quilt pattern
map of the world coloring page
map of the world necklace pendant
map of the world in 1914 before ww1
map of the world according to different perspectives
map of the world by population density
map of the world with time zones and clocks
map of the world with latitude and longitude lines
map of the world with flags and names
map of the world with climate zones
map of the world with major cities and landmarks
map of the world with natural resources
map of the world with physical features labeled
map of the world during the cold war
map of the world showing tectonic plates and volcanoes
map of the world showing biomes and ecosystems
map of the world showing religions and beliefs
map of the world showing languages and dialects
map of the world showing hemispheres and equator
map of the world showing countries and their currencies
map of the world showing human development index
map of the world showing covid 19 cases and deaths
map of the world showing internet access and speed
map of the world before and after colonization
map of the world based on historical accuracy
map of the world based on projected sea level rise
map of the world based on gdp per capita
map of the world based on happiness index
map of the world based on life expectancy
map of the world based on military power
map of the world based on environmental impact
map of the world based on genetic diversity
map of the world based on coffee consumption
Thematic maps show specific topics or themes related to Earth's surface or human activities. They can portray physical, social, political, cultural, economic, environmental, historical, or any other aspects of a region or the whole world. They often use different colors or symbols to contrast differences between regions or to illustrate patterns or trends.
One example of a thematic map is the one shown below. It uses a Winkel tripel projection (which we will explain later) to show the climate classification of the world based on Köppen-Geiger system. It also shows some names of continents.
<img src="(^3^)" alt="Thematic map of the world" width="600 Map Projections
A map projection is a method of transforming the curved surface of the Earth onto a flat plane. This is necessary because a map cannot show the true shape and size of the Earth without distortion. However, different map projections have different effects on the appearance and accuracy of the map. Some map projections may preserve some properties of the Earth, such as angles, areas, distances, or directions, but at the cost of distorting others. Therefore, choosing a map projection depends on the purpose and preference of the mapmaker and the user.
There are many types of map projections, but they can be broadly classified into three categories: cylindrical, conic, and azimuthal.
Cylindrical projections are made by wrapping a cylinder around the globe and projecting the features of the Earth onto the cylinder. The cylinder can then be unrolled into a flat map. Cylindrical projections are useful for showing large areas of land or sea, but they tend to distort shapes and sizes near the poles. One of the most famous cylindrical projections is the Mercator projection, which preserves angles and directions, but greatly inflates areas near the poles.
Conic projections are made by placing a cone over the globe and projecting the features of the Earth onto the cone. The cone can then be cut and flattened into a map. Conic projections are useful for showing regions that are mainly east-west in extent, such as continents or countries. They tend to distort shapes and sizes near the edges of the map. One of the most common conic projections is the Albers equal-area projection, which preserves areas but distorts shapes and angles.
Azimuthal projections are made by placing a plane over the globe and projecting the features of the Earth onto the plane. The plane can be tangent or secant to the globe, and can touch any point on the surface. Azimuthal projections are useful for showing regions that are mainly north-south in extent, such as poles or hemispheres. They tend to distort shapes and sizes away from the center of the map. One of the most popular azimuthal projections is the stereographic projection, which preserves angles but distorts areas and distances. History of World Maps
The history of world maps is a fascinating story of human exploration, discovery, and imagination. World maps have evolved over time and reflect different worldviews, cultures, and technologies. They also reveal the gaps and errors in human knowledge and perception of the world.
There are many examples of historical world maps that have influenced or challenged our understanding of the world. Here are some of them:
The Babylonian World Map
The Babylonian world map is one of the oldest known world maps, dating back to the 6th century BCE. It is a clay tablet that shows a circular map of the world surrounded by a ring of water. The map depicts Babylon as the center of the world, with eight triangular regions around it representing different lands and peoples. The map also shows some mythical creatures and places, such as the winged sun disk and the mountain of the world. The map reflects the Babylonian cosmology and worldview, but it is not very accurate or realistic.
The Ptolemaic World Map
The Ptolemaic world map is based on the work of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek geographer and astronomer who lived in the 2nd century CE. He compiled a book called Geography, which contained a list of coordinates and descriptions of over 8,000 places in the known world. He also devised a system of map projection that allowed him to draw a map of the world based on his data. The map shows the world as a sphere divided into three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. The map also shows some oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, and islands. The map was very influential and widely used in the medieval period, but it had some errors and omissions, such as the Americas and Australia.
The Tabula Rogeriana
The Tabula Rogeriana is a world map created by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in 1154 CE for the Norman king Roger II of Sicily. It is based on the information collected from various sources, including travelers, merchants, scholars, and previous maps. The map shows the world as divided into seven climate zones, each with ten sections. The map is oriented with south at the top, following the Islamic tradition. The map depicts Europe, Asia, and Africa in great detail, but also shows some parts of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The map also includes illustrations of mountains, rivers, lakes, islands, cities, and landmarks. The map is considered one of the most accurate and advanced medieval world maps.
The Waldseemüller Map
The Waldseemüller map is a world map drawn by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 CE. It is based on the information from various sources, including the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. It is the first map to show the Americas as separate continents from Asia, and to name them after Vespucci. It is also the first map to show the Pacific Ocean and to depict a circumnavigable Africa. The map is composed of twelve large woodcut panels that form a wall map measuring about 2.3 by 1.2 meters. The map also includes a large globe gores sheet, a book of cosmography, and a legend panel. The map is considered one of the most important and influential maps in history.
We have seen some of the types, projections, and history of world maps. We have learned that world maps are not just simple representations of reality, but complex and creative expressions of human curiosity and knowledge. World maps can show us how people in different times and places understood and imagined the world, and how they communicated and interacted with each other.
World maps are also not static or final, but dynamic and evolving. As new discoveries and technologies emerge, world maps are constantly updated and revised to reflect the changing world. World maps can also inspire us to explore new horizons and challenge our assumptions and perspectives.
Here are some trivia or fun facts about world maps:
The largest world map ever made is the World Map Mural by the British company Lovell Johns. It measures 17.9 by 9.8 meters (58.7 by 32.2 feet) and covers an area of 175.2 square meters (1,886 square feet). It was created in 2012 for the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha.
The oldest surviving world map is the Babylonian World Map, dating back to the 6th century BCE. It is a clay tablet that shows a circular map of the world surrounded by a ring of water. The map depicts Babylon as the center of the world, with eight triangular regions around it representing different lands and peoples.
The most expensive world map ever sold is the Waldseemüller Map, printed in 1507. It is the first map to use the name "America" and the first to depict the Americas as separate from Asia. The map comprises 12 separate sheets that form a wall map measuring about 2.3 by 1.2 meters (7.5 by 4 feet). The map was purchased by the Library of Congress in 2001 for $10 million.
If you want to learn more about world maps, you can check out some of these sources:
[The History of Cartography](^8^), a six-volume series edited by J.B. Harley and David Woodward that covers the history of maps and mapmaking from prehistoric times to the present.
[Strange Maps](^9^), a blog by Frank Jacobs that features unusual, curious, and intriguing maps from various sources and periods.
[Worldmapper](^10^), a website that creates world maps where territories are resized according to various subjects or indicators, such as population, income, health, etc.
Here are some frequently asked questions about world maps:
What is the difference between a map and a globe?
What are some advantages and disadvantages of using a map or a globe?
What are some criteria for evaluating the quality or accuracy of a map?
What are some ways to make a map more engaging or appealing?
What are some skills or tools needed to create a map?
A map is a flat representation of all or part of the Earth's surface, while a globe is a spherical model of the whole Earth. A map can use different projections to show different aspects or perspectives of the Earth, while a globe can show the true shape and size of the Earth without distortion.
Some advantages of using a map are: it is easier to carry, store, and display; it can show more details and information; it can focus on specific regions or themes; it can use different projections to suit different purposes. Some disadvantages of using a map are: it cannot show the true shape and size of the Earth without distortion; it may be outdated or inaccurate; it may be biased or misleading; it may be difficult to compare distances or directions across different regions.Some advantages of using a globe are: it can show the true shape and size of the Earth without distortion; it can show the relative positions and orientations of continents and oceans; it can show the rotation and tilt of the Earth; it can be used for navigation or astronomy. Some disadvantages of using a globe are: it is bulky and heavy; it cannot show much details or information; it cannot focus on specific regions or themes; it cannot use different projections to suit different purposes.
Some criteria for evaluating the quality or accuracy of a map are: its scale, projection, legend, symbols, labels, colors, orientation, date, source, purpose, audience, etc. A good map should have an appropriate scale and projection for its intended use; a clear legend that explains its symbols and units; accurate and consistent labels that identify its features; suitable colors that enhance its contrast and highlight its features; a correct orientation that shows the cardinal directions; a recent date that reflects the current situation; a reliable source that provides the data and methods; a clear purpose that states the main message or theme; and a specific audience that suits the level and interest of the users.
Some ways to make a map more engaging or appealing are: using creative or interactive elements, such as animations, pop-ups, quizzes, etc.; using attractive or unusual designs, such as shapes, colors, fonts, icons, etc.; using storytelling or narrative techniques, such as titles, captions, quotes, etc.; using humor or emotion, such as jokes, puns, sarcasm, etc.; using personalization or customization, such as allowing users to choose their preferences, locations, etc.
Some skills or tools needed to create a map are: geographic knowledge and research skills, such as understanding the physical and human features of the Earth and finding reliable and relevant data sources; cartographic skills and techniques, such as choosing the appropriate scale, projection, legend, symbols, labels, colors, orientation, etc.; graphic design and software skills, such as using various programs or applications to draw, edit, and display maps; communication and presentation skills, such as writing clear and concise texts and speaking confidently and persuasively.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about world maps.