Map Meaning

What is Map:

A map is the graphic representation of a territory on a two-dimensional surface. It is also defined as a schematic drawing or layout that represents the characteristics of a given territory, such as its dimensions, coordinates, geographical features or other relevant aspects.

Maps can represent territories of different dimensions, so they can be local, regional, continental, or global. The latter are called the planisphere or world map, since they are a graphic representation of the world.

World map or planisphere

The main function of the maps is to provide synthesized information on location points and orientation coordinates, as well as on available routes, land surface characteristics (reliefs, river networks, resources, etc.), regional climate, political-territorial limits. , points of interest, population distribution, etc.

The technique of lifting, recording, and projecting information for mapping is called cartography, and the people who perform it are called cartographers. The process of making a map is called the cartographic process and it consists of the following stages: collecting and generalizing the data, giving the map a visual shape and interpreting the information.

Map features

  • They are a visual communication medium to convey spatial information.
  • They describe spatial relationships through graphic and symbolic conventions for understanding, which constitute their own language.
  • They have metric properties: they must be drawn from the scale measurement record.
  • They are selective or specific: they represent only aspects necessary for their purpose.
  • They are drawn on a two-dimensional surface, although this can be applied to spheres, cubes or polyhedra.
  • Being a representation of reality, they always express a certain level of distortion.

Parts of a map

As a visual communication document, a map must comply with certain conventions or elements. Namely:

  • Title: indicator of the topic or aspect addressed on the map.
  • Location, position and orientation: the entire system of position references necessary to locate oneself. For example, cardinal points and geographic coordinates.
  • Scale: measure of the relationship that exists between the represented territory and its representation.
  • Legends: written information provided for the interpretation of the map.
  • Cartographic symbols: images on the map that synthesize information in a graphic and efficient way. These vary according to the type of map and the type of audience it is aimed at.
  • Cartographic projections: it is the visual projection or tracing of the map on the plane.

Map types

There are different types of maps according to their function or purpose. Among them, we can mention the following:

Geographical or physical maps

Geographic map of Mexico (topographic and barimetric)

They are maps whose main objective is to represent different aspects of geography, such as rivers, seas, mountains, deserts, climate, rainfall, among others.

Therefore, geographical or physical maps do not represent political borders, or they only appear for reference to facilitate the location of the geographical features highlighted on the map. Nor do they represent human activity.

Among the geographical maps we can find the following:

  • Hydrographic maps: describe surface water sources such as rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans, among others.
  • Bathymetric maps: represents land features below water surfaces.
  • Topographic maps: describe the characteristics of the earth's surface.
  • Geological Maps: Represent geological formations, including seismic faults.
  • Edaphological maps: describe the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of the soil.
  • Climate maps: represent the behavior of the climate.
  • Pluviometric maps: they focus on representing the rainfall of the regions.

Political maps

Political map of America

Political maps are those that are concerned with representing the borders between countries and politically delimited regions. This type of map provides information on the boundaries between countries and administrative areas.

Thematic maps

Above: qualitative map. Bottom: quantitative map.

Thematic maps are those whose design focuses on the communication of particular concepts or characteristics. These usually describe information about human activity in the territory. Therefore, this information can coexist with more or less detailed geographical representations depending on the case.

Thematic maps can be of two types:

  • qualitative: they show the spatial distribution of certain data without providing numerical information.
  • quantitative: they relate the space with the numerical data on the aspects to be reflected.

Some examples of thematic maps are:

  • Demographic maps: they express the population density of a territory.
  • Economic maps: represent the type of economic activities in a region.
  • Historical maps: describe the journey of ancient civilizations on the map.
  • Linguistic maps: show the distribution of languages ​​in the territory.
  • Tourist maps: they indicate the points of interest for tourists in a certain region.
  • Urban maps: describe the layout of the city.

You may also be interested in: Types of maps.

Origin of the maps

The oldest known maps come from Babylon, and were made on tablets about 5000 years ago.

In Ancient Greece, travelers also drew maps from the routes they explored. Thales of Miletus is said to have made the first world map.

The philosopher Aristotle, for his part, was the first to measure the angle of inclination of the earth with respect to the equator.

It may interest you:

  • Planisphere
  • Mapping

Conceptual map

Concept map example

The concept map is a technique used for the graphic representation of knowledge. It is a design or diagram that represents and organizes the flow of ideas regarding a subject matter.

Concept maps use visual elements such as circles or geometric shapes, whose function is to frame a concept and establish its hierarchy with respect to others by means of arrows or connectors.

This technique facilitates the understanding and the relationship that exist between the various concepts that make up a topic. Consequently, the concept map is an active process, in which the student must pay attention to the concepts and the hierarchy of each in the diagram.

Mind map

Mind map example

A mind map is a diagram of ideas whose function is to help visualize the different aspects related to a topic to facilitate learning. It is, therefore, a study tool.

Said map is developed around a word that must be located in the center of it, from which other ideas and connections will later be derived. It's a fun, logical, and creative way to take notes.

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