The earth is spherical. As such, it is represented by three dimensional model called globe.
Even though, globe is very useful to maintain the true shape, area, direction, distances and locations, it cannot be made large enough to include all the details of surface features like— continents, oceans, mountains, deserts, roads, railways etc. Therefore, a two dimensional flat surface is constructed to represent the whole part of the earth and its surface features which is called Map.
A map is a representation or a drawing of the earth’s surface, or a part of it, on a flat surface, according to a scale. It could be hand drawn or printed. It helps us identify the places and locations within an area helping us to navigate from one place to another. A map is different from an aerial photograph because it includes interpretation.
Many maps are called “charts” such as star charts and nautical charts. Before the late 20th century almost all maps were on paper. Now they are more often seen on a computer screen. The word “map” can also be used to talk about a chart or drawing that shows relationships between ideas, people, events, or anything else you can think about.
The way we now use maps is changing. The way we think of the city is also changing. The way we think of, interact with and navigate the streets, alleys, boulevards, roads, parks, lanes, hills, cracks and gutters is going through a seismic shift, not because the landscape has changed, but because of little black rectangles in our pockets.
Having a map in your pocket at all is relatively recent development. “In the medieval period right the way through to the 19th century, people could live perfectly happily in their locality without ever having knowledge of or care for the wider world,” explains Tom Harper, curator of antiquarian mapping at the British Library. As maps became cheaper to produce they became important public tools, able to take the mess of new urban metropolises and make them comprehensible. Pocket maps were designed to fit in gentlemen’s coat pockets, and this cheaper production signaled a revolution in mapping. As digital technology becomes more readily available the shifts are just as enormous.
Maps have three components mainly: distance, direction, and symbol along with few more features. We measure distance in terms of scale. A scale is a ratio between the actual distance on the ground and the distance shown on the map.
Normally the essential features of a map include:
• Title— it tells about the area and purpose
• Scale— it is used to measure large areas like continents or countries on a paper, we use a small scale map.
• Map projection—the surface created with the help of some techniques to construct network of parallels and meridian and to show a small area like a village to town, we use a large scale map.
• Key—It tells about various signs used in the maps
• Direction— Directions are cardinal points like North, South, East and West. And symbols are certain letters, shades, colors, pictures and lines, which gives us information about a limited place. Various other things like sketches and plans are used to draw an area of a large scale.
• Conventional symbols—They are used to show various features
Maps are of several types. They are mainly classified into:
• Physical or Relief Maps: These show natural features of the earth.
• Political Maps: These maps show the cities, town and villages, countries and states of the world with their boundaries.
• Thematic Maps: These maps focus on specific information like the map of a rainfall, roads, and tourist places.
Thus, Maps give a broad understanding of location and features of an area. The reader may gain an understanding of the type of landscape, the location of urban places, and the location of major transportation routes all at once with the help of maps.