The Maps’ Importance in Human History Essay (Critical Writing)

Maps are an interesting aspect of human history. Since their inventing in the ancient world, people have used them as a source of both knowledge and power. Maps can be utilized in various aspects. Some people use them to know boundaries of land, geographical features and political boundaries. This can be classified as a sort of practical knowledge in order to know where to go and what to expect there. The essay of James Akerman relates to maps in this sense. In fact Akerman praises the American road map of the twentieth century to be one of the greatest inventions at the benefit of the public. This is certainly the case for the American road maps. These maps had a direct impact on the popular culture. In fact they changed popular culture by introducing a new concept of traveling. The map is organized around the roads, the highways, and not vice versa.

The central theme that attracts viewer’s attention is the highway(s) and everything in the map is organized around it. One can view the trip that he wants to pursue and find in the map all the necessary facilities to make it as easier and pleasurable as possible. The map clearly indicates all the gas stations during the trip so you will not be concerned about running out of gas, all the restaurants and bars so you can refresh yourself and any natural park or attraction alongside the road which you can visit. This is a very practical way of informing people and motivating them to take the trip instead of de-motivating them. These maps changed the psychology of traveling by road in American society. Now the trip is not just about getting from point A to point B but also of enjoying the road and taking advantage of all the facilities and natural beauties that can be found alongside the road.

Another aspect of maps is their relation to power. The knowledge of the existence of oil has made people to mine it and use its enormous returns to dominate the world. Oil is a very important resource to a country since it keeps the economy running by providing energy as well as fetching foreign exchange thus contributing directly to the country’s gross domestic product. Despite many countries being involved in the search for oil minerals, the product has been found to occur only at selected areas of the world. This paper identifies maps, knowledge and power, and their relation to oil and people in the context of Harley (1988) in the book “Maps, knowledge, and power”.

The oil and gas map of the world conveys a significant message to the reader. The circles that symbolize oil production of the world attract attention immediately toward the Arabian Peninsula. The overlapping circles demonstrate of the producing power of the region. In the other hand, the oil consumption circles demonstrate the predominance of North American (mainly US) market for oil consumption. Thus, the inevitable thought that comes to mind is the connection between the two regions, i.e. the biggest consumer with the biggest producer. Subsequently one can understand the focus of interest of the United States government in the region just by viewing the circles of this map. Compared to the previous map or American roads, this one is conveying not a practical knowledge to people but a political and economical message to businesses and governments.

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IvyPanda. (2023, November 2). The Maps’ Importance in Human History.

"The Maps’ Importance in Human History." IvyPanda , 2 Nov. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) 'The Maps’ Importance in Human History'. 2 November.

IvyPanda . 2023. "The Maps’ Importance in Human History." November 2, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "The Maps’ Importance in Human History." November 2, 2023.


IvyPanda . "The Maps’ Importance in Human History." November 2, 2023.

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Significance Of Maps In Geography (Essay Sample)

Table of Contents


A map is an important symbolic presentation of places being represented by a feature or an element. The symbols represent the area where space, regions, and themes are presented in the map. This is important for the field of geography because it can specifically address the location of the areas that will be indicating the current position of a person who wants to navigate a certain location. Maps are usually generated to establish a position where shapes, objects, locations, and places are presented in the illustration, paper, or graphical analysis. In this position, this paper aims to discuss the importance of maps in geography. It seeks to find out the relevance of maps being used in a geographical analysis of each presented area or object in an area.

The significance of map is to currently locate the position of a certain object, material, person, place, or equipment. Using map is one of the most significant ways to decrease the time finding lost object, person, or equipment over a certain time. A map indicates objects that are lost, which could have the chance to be found, using sensors, radar, and other mapping tools to locate an object. For travelers, using a map is important because they are able to locate the preferred destination where they will be traveling for their next trip. Another is to lessen the effort of finding something that is significant for every person or groups who are having an ongoing rescue mission over a certain issue. In this way, engagement of maps creates an update regarding the current location of an object that is in the center of gravity for the search by individuals or groups.

There are specific types of maps used by individuals depending on their activities, roles, and situations. Political maps are used by each country to define their territorial jurisdiction so that residents from other countries will learn and appreciate the borders that divide nations. Topographical maps are used by geologists to focus on the landscape of a certain area that seeks to identify areas that have different land or sea features such as mountains, plains, lakes, rivers, and oceans. A weather map indicates the weather pattern, which is focused on any presence of any natural-related phenomenon affecting a certain country. Geo-satellite map is a tool that locates the current position of a person using online resource tools such as software and internet connection to provide relevant information about the current place where the person is located.

The challenges associated with the map are the consistency of its physical presentation. This is because there are areas around the world that is yet to be discovered by scientists and explorers to help indicate the exact location of the object, place, or person. Others have conflicting reports regarding the current location of the object due to a conflict of interest. There are other parts of the world whose land borders are currently in dispute, which shows an unconfirmed land border between the affected countries because there was no international arbitration that were applied. But overall, maps strengthened every person’s sense of identity because it shows how a person would let themselves associate with a certain nation, given that they belong to a country as shown by their location. In this case, maps in geography are an important measurement of one’s identity and location (Cappell, 2014).

  • Chappell, Bill (2014). “Google Maps Displays Crimean Border Differently In Russia, U.S.”.

essay on importance of maps

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Geography Essay on Maps and the Essence of Cartography

Geography Essay on Maps and the Essence of Cartography

Maps are of particular importance because they effectively convey geographic and spatial information. Compared to tabular data and textual descriptions, maps are more efficient in representing spatial relationships. As Krygler and Wood (2011) point out, compared to writing or even talking, maps are a very useful component for people to convey locations and they are developing very quickly. As Lemmens (2011) notes, the development of maps has contributed to the age of discovering a lot and also highlights that a map has become a useful tool that can be applied in numerous sectors, including transportation, military, and spatial planning. However, to make good use of maps and make the map readers satisfied with them, map makers or cartographers should try to design informative maps. Even so, it should be noted that maps do not have absolute authority because, at times, they can be limited or in some instances convey wrongful information.

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The purpose of this research paper is to highlight the importance maps in describing the spatial concepts more effectively compared to textual information and tabular data. In addition, since maps makers are usually limited or susceptible to representation of wrongful information, the paper will also highlight some situations in which map readers can be misled by inaccurate cartographic information and give various examples of the misuse of maps in certain scenarios, including zoning disputes and faulty census reports, as well as covering any possible distortion of information from misleading use of color and deliberate oversimplification.

Part A: Importance of Maps over Textual and Tabular data

Historically, information could be represented using textual descriptions and tabular data efficiently. Even so, as the information era quickly evolved and developed, it became difficult for textual descriptions and tabular data to meet the needs of different users. It is for this reason that maps and the cartography, which is the art of creating maps begun gaining preference. According to Crampton (2011), tabular data can present information in a systems way, but the information is not always brief and can be quite lengthy at times, making it tough to describe and establish the spatial relationships. Besides, textual descriptions cost much room, and in some occasions, map readers cannot get and understand the information easily to some extent. Turner (2008) highlights that geographic technology develops quickly and researchers attempt to find avenues to present the various kinds of information using maps. For instance, it can be used in meteorology in representing weather patterns for other purposes.

According to Tversky (2000), even though the worlds that maps represent are 3-dimensional, maps are particularly important because they are 2-dimensional. For this reason, they can cover much information compared to textual or tabular information. Besides, it is easier to portray two-dimensional spaces on a piece of paper compared to 3-dimensional space. In essence, since maps are two-dimensional, it is simpler than portraying spatial information as text or tables, because it is easier to understand. For instance, people readily conceive three-dimensional environments as two-dimensional overviews, which is a remarkable cognitive achievement. Besides, as Tvester (2000) articulates, maps are more permanent that thoughts, tables, textual descriptions, or speech primarily because they are visible to a community. Even though written language, such as texts and tables is prominent among useful cognitive tools, maps can serve the same purpose with great simplicity. Also, they stick to the minds of map users compared to the textual description or tables. Furthermore, what renders the maps more privileged is because maps incorporate space and space elements in space to express the meanings and relations directly. Representing such information in tables or text is cumbersome, and difficult to remember or understand.

Furthermore, maps help convey geographic relationships that can subsequently be analyzed and interpreted by the map readers. Through maps, it is easier to identify geographic or spatial features that connect, adjacent, near, overlap, contained in a particular area, rise above, or along with others, through a simple glance (Kimerling et al., 2010). When explaining such information through text or tables is cumbersome. For this reason, maps make it easier for map readers to establish the spatial connections of features on the ground.

Textual descriptions, as Egenhofer and Kuhn (1999) point out, are ambiguous, and in most instances, they express spatial data, such as how to find certain routes, and this can also incorporate some misinterpretation to users. For this reason, textual descriptions can be limited because they provide an explanation based on the perception of the author. However, the reader can misinterpret such information. However, for maps, such data is accurate, and the map reader just has to visualize the information. In most occasions, the map is not biased, making it an easier means of providing spatial information.

Map elements are also easier to understand. According to Monmoinier (1996), no map user can safely and more efficiently use maps without accurately recognizing and deducing the spatial elements. For this reason, a person can be able to use a map just by comprehending the spatial features, but in some instances, cannot understand such information when textual descriptions or tables are used.

The map frame is the portion that represents the map layers and encompasses aspects, such as roads, elevation, land use, boundaries, the image base, as well as the elevation (ESRI, n.d). For this reason, it is the map element that provides the spatial information. It provides simplicity in viewing the map features primarily because it would be difficult explain the map layers using either text or tables. However, it should be accompanied by the scale. In fact, almost all maps should be accompanied by a scale. The scale is very convenient in predicting the distance when compared to the textual description or tabular data. The scale is representative of the relationship between the map distance and the ground distance (Robinson et al., 1995). However, there are three types of scales: verbal, graphic, and ratio. The ratio scale is mainly a fraction, for example, 1:100,000, as shown in Figure 2.

Map makers use 1 for the left number, which is the distance on the map, and the value on the right, in this case, 100,000, being the actual distance on the ground. In other words, it is the real distance and reveals how small the map is compared to the real ground distance. For large scales, for example, 1:1,500, much detail is encompassed, such as the name of each street and their shape, for example, the scale in Figure 3. However, tiny detail is provided in smaller scale maps, for example, that of Figure 4.

As such, the spatial representations showcased in a map are controlled by the scale. The advantage of scale is that it helps map makers and map readers to provide distance prediction and measurements for planned paths. However, this kind of information is difficult to represent using textual description or tabular data primarily because it might not be possible to transfer all the distances in a map to text or tables. Ideally, if cartographers decide on selecting tables or text, it might take a couple of pages to present it, and this, in consequence, might make it difficult for users of the map to derive meaningful information. In essence, users might get confused finding the distance even if the map maker can use a page of providing the data on a single page. As such, it can be derived that scales are vital in conveying spatial concepts compared to text or tables. Inset maps are vital as the show the location of the map, which is easier compared to explaining where the place is using text or tables.

All maps should have titles, which highlights the succinct description about the maps subject matter, and instantly allows the map user to obtain information about the location of the data (Robinson et al., 1995). The north arrow provides the orientation of the map, thereby allowing the map user to know the direction of the map as it relates to due north direction. The legend is the decoding mechanism of the various symbols used in the data frame and is also referred to as the key. The symbols used in the map are covered in this element, and therefore, this makes maps more effective compared to when tables and textual descriptions were used instead. In essence, symbolization saves the cartographer time to explain the map using text (Robinson et al., 1995). In essence, the symbols are used to describe the map objects, so that map users are not confused. It also allows the map user to instantly decode the map, which can also save time that would have been used reading through textual description or tabular data. Symbols are not restricted to graphics, color, lines, or points; areas can also be represented using them. Besides, it can also be used in representing qualitative or quantitative data of different themes in a map (Robinson et al., 1995). While qualitative data is descriptive information, for example gender which encompasses males and females or racial data, such as African American, Chinese, White, Hindus, or African from a particular study, quantitative information is measurable information, for example income of Hong Kong or Chinese people, which is usually described using statistical map. In essence, the map symbols serve as a graphic code for providing descriptions and differentiating places and features as well as showing the brief idea of the places. For example, figure 5 shows red cross on the map to represent hospital and P on the map to represent car park.

On the other hand, map projections are essential and enable cartographers to show spatial concepts and relationships graphically. In essence, the earth is an oblate spheroid, and projections enable map makers to present the three-dimensional earth. In essence, according to, Monmoiner (1996), map projections is the process of transforming the earth from a three-dimensional earth to a two-dimensional plane. Similarly, it is the transformation of longitudes and latitudes of a position on the earths spherical surface to the map. The are various map projections. An example is an azimuthal projection. In essence, the earths coordinates are projected directly on a flat plane surface, which is usually best for circular areas, for example, the poles (Figure 5.). In essence, with map projections, map users can view the global landforms of the earths surface on a plane at the same time. In effect, the regions, such as lands and seas can be found easily on the map, and thus, the users can conveniently recognize the spatial size, direction, as well as distance for a variety of uses. For instance, tourists can plan their trips without getting lost. Therefore, from maps, people can accurately deduce spatial information, but when such information is presented through tables and text, the clarity is compromised (Smith, 1997). Even so, the test and tables can act as complimentary in presenting explanations, but they cannot effectively depict the spatial concept. For this reason, maps are the most effective tools in providing spatial information.

Cartographic maps, part...

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Geography Notes

Essay on maps | topology | geography.


Essay on Maps!

Essay on maps and scales :.

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.

Earth can be mapped through various ways like:

(i) Free hand sketches

(ii) Actual survey with the help of some instruments

(iii) Using ground and aerial photograph

(iv) Satellite and rather charts

(v) High speed computers and

(vi) Global Positioning System (GPS).

The number of information in a map depends on the following:

(b) Projection

(c) Conventional science and symbols

(d) Method of map making

(e) Requirement of the user and

(f) Skill of the cartographer.

Essay on Types of Map :

Based on the scale, purpose or content maps are broadly classified in the following manner:

Based on the Scale:

The maps may be called as large scale maps when they represent a small area of the earth on a large sheet of paper. The cadastral maps and topographical maps are large scale maps. Here, scale is normally 1:50,000.

A map is called small scale when it covers a large area on a small sheet of paper. They include wall maps, Atlas and thematic maps like soil map, climate map, weather map, natural vegetation map etc. The scale of small scale map is normally 1:1,00,000 or more.

All maps whether large scale or small scale differ in their purpose and content like physical, cultural and military uses.

Essential Features of Map:

Normally the essential features of a map includes:

(i) Title—tells about the area and purpose

(ii) Scale—measures the distances

(iii) Map projection—surface created with the help of some techniques to construct network of parallels and meridian.

(iv) Key—tells about various signs used in the maps

(v) Direction—tells about the orientation

(vi) Conventional symbols—used to show various features


Scale is the ratio of distance between two points on a map and the corresponding distance on the actual surface of the earth.

Why necessary? A scale permits a portion of the earth’s surface to be represented on the map smaller than reality. From this, we can see that with smaller scale, larger areas can be represented on a sheet of paper but with lesser details. For example, 1 cm to 10 Kilometres. Similarly larger the scale, smaller will be the area with greater details. For example, 10 cms to 1 cm.


There are three ways of representing scale on the map.

(a) Word Scale: like—one centimetre equal to 10 Kilometres.

(b) Representative Fraction (R.F.) Scale:

Like 1:25,000. This signifies that one unit on the map is equal to 25,000 units on the ground. The unit may be centimetre, or inch. Remember that R.F. is expressed by a fraction in which the numerator is always shown by unit.

(c) The line Scale like

Here, distance is represented along a line drawn along either at the top or at the bottom border of the map.

Conversion of Scales:

For convenience, sometimes one type of scale is converted into another type in the following manner.

Find R.F. when the scale in 4 cm. to 1 kilometre.

Remember, 1 km = 1,00,000 cm

. . . 4 cms represent = 1,00,000 cms

= 25,000 cms

Therefore, R.F. = 1 : 25,000 or 1/25,000.

The R.F. of a map is 1: 5,00,000. Convert it into a statement scale in metric system.

Here, 1 cm, represents 5,00,000 cms.

Remember, 1,00,000 cms = 1 km

. . . The statement scale is 1 cm to 5 kms.

Plain Scale :

A plain scale consists of primary and secondary divisions to measure larger and smaller units of measurement on a map.

The length of a primary scale is to be kept between 10 cm to 15 cm for convenience.

The construction of a plain scale is explained with the help of a worked out example.

The R.F. of a map is 1:50,000. Draw a plain scale to read kilometres and metres.

Here, 1 cm= 50,000 cms

. . . 2 cms = 1 km

If we choose to make the scale 10 cm long

10 cms. will represent 0.5 x 10 = 5 kms.

Now, draw a line AB = 10 cms long in your paper (preferably at the middle). It will measure 5 kms. on the ground. If the line is marked at an interval of 1 cm, the line will be divided into 10 equal parts. Each one of the divisions is called primaries and measures 0.5 km or 500 metres.

Now, divide one of the primaries to the extreme left AC into (say) 5 equal divisions. Each of such divisions is called secondaries and will measure 100 metres or 0.1 kms.

The length of the line AB can have fractions like 10.56 cm, 12.73 cm, etc. But, the distance represented along this line should always have whole number like, 5,10,100,250 kms. etc.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE when AB has fractional length.

The R.F., of a map is 1 : 74,000. Construct a plain scale in metric system 10 read kms and metres.

Remember, 1,00,000 cm = 1 km

Here, 1 cm. = 74,000 cms

If we choose to have a scale of 10 cm. long;

10 cms will represent 0.74 x 10 = 7.4 kms.

Now, 7.4 kms. are represented by 10 cms.

Step I: (To make primary divisions)

1. Draw a line AB = 10.8 cms to represent 8 kms.

When AB is divided into 8 equal parts, each one will measure 1 km.

2. Draw another line AC = (say) 8 cms at an angle between 200 to 250 with AB.

Remember, Length of AC should always have whole number.

3. Mark AC at an interval of 1 cm with the help of a scale or by compass.

4. Join CB and draw straight lines through the marked points on AC parallel to CB. These lines will divide AB into 8 equal parts and each one will measure 1 km. These are primary divisions.

5. Number the primary divisions form 0, 1, 2,………, 8 as shown in the figure.

Step II: (To make secondary divisions)

1. Along AB, at A draw a perpendicular, AD above AB and at 0 draw another perpendicular OE below AB.

2. If you are interested to measure in multiple of 200 metres, make out 5 divisions at selected intervals along the two perpendiculars.

3. Join A with the end point E of lower perpendicular and 0 with the end point D of upper perpendicular.

4. Join other marked out points consecutively as shown in the figure.

5. These lines will divide the primary division AO into 5 equal parts each measuring 200 metres.

This is the construction of a plain scale to measure kilometres and metres.

Line AC to be drawn equal to the length you want to represent.

1. Perpendiculars are to be drawn one above and the other below AB in opposite directions.

2. Divisions are to be marked out according to the amount of smaller distance to be measured by each secondary unit.

Comparative Scale:

Comparative scales are special types of plain scale drawn side by side to measure distances in different unit of measurements. Method of construction is same as plain scale. Study the following example for clarification.

The R.F. of a map is 1 : 1,00,000. Draw comparative scales to show kilometres and miles.

For Kilometre Scale, 1 cm represents, 1,00,000 cms. or 1 km.

. . . (say) 12 cms represent 12 km.

Draw a line AB = 12 cms. to represent 12 kms. Divide AB into 12 equal parts and each one will represent 1 km. If one of the divisions near A is subdivided into 5 equal divisions each one will measure 200 metres,

For Mile Scale, 1 inch represents 1,00,000 inches

Remember, 63,360 inches =1 mile

Or ( 100000/63368) miles

or 1.57 miles That is, 1.57 miles are represented by 1 inch.

. . . 10 Miles are represented by (1 x 10)/1.57 = 6.35 inches

To draw the plain scale CD to represent miles and furlongs, follow the steps mentioned in example 4.

Now draw the two scales one above the other in such a way that the zero points coincide.

In comparative scale Zero markings of both the scales are to be coincided.

Time Scale:

The time scale is constructed for a moving body to give a time and space relationship. It is also a special type of plain scale.

In the scale two things are necessary:

(a) T he scale of the map

(b) T he rate of movement or speed.

The method of construction is same as plain scale.

Draw a time scale for a car moving at 30 kms. per hour on a map having R.F. 1 :10,00,000.

Here, 1 cm represents 10,00,000 cms. or 10 kms.

. . . 12 cms represent = 10 x 12 kms.

Now, the car moves 30 kms in 1 hour.

. . . To cover 120 kms, the car needs = (120/30) = 4 Hours

Construction (Steps to be followed)

(i) Draw a straight line AB = 12 cms.

(ii) Divide it into 4 equal divisions. Each division will represent 1 hour as well as 30 kms.

(iii) Take one of the divisions near A and divide it into 3 equal sub-divisions. Each sub-division will represent 20 minutes as well as 10 kms.

1. The length of the scale is to be determined according to the given scale of map.

2. The primary and secondary divisions are to be made according to the rate of movement.

Diagonal Scale :

For greater accuracy of measurement even the secondary divisions of a plain scale are to be sub-divided into tertiary divisions. The scale which contains primary, secondary and tertiary divisions is called Diagonal scale. That is, with Diagonal scale measurements can be taken upto 2 places after decimal.

Remember, construction of primary and secondary divisions is same as plain scale.

Draw a diagonal scale to read upto two places after decimal of millimetre for a map with R.F. 1: 1,00,000.

Remember, 1,00,000 cm = 1 km.

Here, 1 cm represents 1,00,000 cms or 1 km.

10 cm represents 10,00,000 cms or 10 kms

Steps to be followed: (To make primary divisions)

1. Draw a Line AB = 10 cms.

2. Divide AB into 5 divisions at an interval of 2 centimetres. Each of the 5 divisions will measure 2 kms.

3. Mark them as 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 along AB.

(To make secondary divisions)

4. Divide one of the primary divisions near A into 5 equal parts. They are called secondary. Each one of the 5 secondary divisions will measure 0.4 kms.

5. Mark them as 0.4, 0.8, 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0 as shown in the Figure.

(To make tertiary divisions)

6. Draw two perpendiculars at A and B.

7. Markout equal divisions according to your choice at the interval of say 0.5 centimetres on the two perpendiculars.

8. Draw straight lines through the marked points parallel to AB.

9. At the uppermost straight line, mark out the positions of the secondaries and number them as shown in the Figure.

10. Draw perpendiculars at 0, 2, 4 and 6 on AB also.

11. Draw diagonals joining 0.4 of the uppermost line to zero of the bottom line; 0.8 and 0.4, 1.2 and 0.8; 1.6 and 1.2 and 2.0 and 1.6.

12. Each intersection of the straight lines and the diagonals will measure .08 kms.

Remember, the interval to divide the perpendiculars at A and B can be taken according to your choice.

Enlargement and Reduction of Maps :

Many a times maps are required to be enlarged or reduced according to need. There are several methods for this. The square Method is one of the most simple one.

1. It is based on the principle of adjusting distances according to scales.

2. The size of the squares of the first network is to be selected according to own convenience.

3. The size of the squares of the corresponding network will depend on the first.

Steps to be followed:

(i) Draw four boundaries on the given map.

(ii) Determine the squares side length to be drawn over the map.

Remember, square should not be too large or too small.

(iii) Divide the four boundaries according to the chosen interval (length).

(iv) Fill the map with squares by joining the points.

(v) Find out the length of the side of the small squares to make the corresponding network for the second map with the help of the formula given below.

Remember, X will have same unit as that of the square drawn already over the given map.

(vi) Draw a network of squares according to size of X.

(vii) Draw map with freehand.

A map of one Block is drawn on a scale with R.F. 1: 1,00,000. It is to be enlarged on a scale with R.F. 1:50,000.

Let us consider the length of the sides of the squares on the given map as 1 cm (say).

Therefore, length of the sides of the squares in the enlarged map will be

Map Projection :

Map projection is a method by which the network of parallels of latitudes and meridians of longitudes is transferred from the spherical globe to a two dimensional plane. Before discussing about the method it is necessary to understand some basic definitions which are necessary for any map projection.

Meridians of Longitudes:

The meridians of longitudes are semi circles joining the north and south poles. They intersect equator at right angles. They are of equal length. The value of a longitude varies from 00 to 1800 east or west at 10 intervals. The meridian that passes through Greenwich (near London) is called Prime Meridian.

Parallels Latitude:

The latitude of a place on the earth surface is its anguler distance north or south of equator from the center of the earth. The lines joining places of same latitudes are called parallels of latitudes. Given below is the 45° south parallel of latitude.

Longitude and Time:

The earth rotates from west to east. Therefore, a place west of ours will have sunrise and mid day later than our place. The time which is fixed on the basis of the position of the mid day sun is called Local Time. The earth takes 24 hours to complete one full rotation or to cover 360 degrees of longitude. Therefore, 1 degree longitude will be covered in 4 minutes (360 degree divided by 24 hours or 24 x 60 = 1440 minutes). Large variations are found from one place to the other within a country.

Therefore, it is necessary to consider the local time of a particular meridian as the standard one for the country. Such meridian is called Standard Meridian. In India, the 82 degree 30 minute meridian which passes through Allahabad is considered as Standard Meridian for the whole country. The time according to this meridian is called Indian Standard Time (IST).

Similarly, the Local Time of Greenwich near London with 0 degree meridian is considered as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or International Standard Time (IST). Our time is 5 hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT. The time for a band of 15 degree meridians to the east and west of Greenwich is called Time Zones. Therefore, there are 24 Time Zones in the world.

Classification of map projection :

The map projections are classified on the basis of:

(a) Source of light

(b) Developable surface and

(c) Global properties

There are three types of projections based on source of light:

(a) Perspective projections—which are drawn by projecting the network of meridians and parallels on a developable surface keeping the source of light at the center, infinity and certain convenient location of the globe.

(b) Non perspective projections—in these projections, the parallels and meridians cannot be transferred with the help of a source of light.

(c) Mathematics of conventional projections—these projections are drawn by mathematical computation and formula.

The projections are again classified on the basis of the developable surfaces as:

(a) Zenithal Projections—here the plane is kept tangential to the globe at some specific points.

(b) Conical Projections—here the cone is made to touch the globe along certain parallel of latitude and the plane is made by cutting open the cone from the apex to base.

(c) Cylindrical Projection—here a cylinder is assumed to touch the equator and its axis consists of the axis of the globe. The cylinder is cut open from the base to the top along a line to make a plane.

Map Projection/Means :

Drawing the network of parallels and meridians systematically over a piece of plain paper.

1. The network is also called, a grid, a net or a mesh.

2. The network is drawn following suitable scale.

3. The parallels and meridians may be straight lines, curves or circles.

4. Certain areas on the network may be of same size and shape while others may be reduced or enlarged.

Choices and Uses:

Map projection is to be drawn with three elements in mind:

1. Preservation of:

(iii) Distance and direction.

Therefore, different types of map projections are drawn to fulfill different elements mentioned above.

Three things are necessary to draw projections—a globe, a piece of paper in the form of surface like—plane, Conical or Cylindrical and a source of light.

Zenithal Projections :

Zenithal projections are obtained by projecting parallels and meridians on a plane surface.

When the plane surface is tangent at the pole it is called Polar Zenithal. The projection is called Gnomonic when the source of light is at the centre of the globe. It is called stereographic when the light is at the circumference of the globe opposite to the plane surface.

In zenithal projection, direction is correct in all sides from the centre of the map.

1. Polar Zenithal Gnomonic Projection:

As the name implies, the plane surface is tangent at the pole and the source of light is at the centre of the globe.

Draw graticles of a Polar Zenithal Gnomonic Projection at 15° intervals for northern hemisphere. The scale is given as 1 : 3,00,000,000.

1. Radius of the earth = 635,000,000 cms.

2. Plane surface is tangent at the north pole.

3. Source of light is at the centre of the globe.

4. Intervals for meridians and parallels are 15°.

Steps to be followed for construction:

(i) A circle to represent the globe is to be drawn first.

For this, calculate radius (R) according to given scale of the map.

= 2.17 cms or 2.2 cms (Approx.)

(ii) Draw a circle with radius (= 2.2 cms) preferably at the upper right or left side of the paper and let NS represents north and south poles, .EQ-equator and 0 centre of the globe.

(iii) Divide NQ at 15° intervals to make the positions of the parallels and mark them from Q as f, g, h, i, and j.

(iv) Draw a tangent NM parallel to EQ to represent the plane surface.

(v) Join the markings of NQ with 0 and extend to meet NM at f’, g’, h’, i’, j’.

Construction of Network :

(a) For drawing parallels:

(vi) Take a point N at the middle of your page.

(vii) Draw concentric circles, taking N as the centre with radius Nf’, Ng’, Nh’, Ni’, and Nj’ to represent 15°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 75° north parallels.

1. Here 90° N parallel will be a point.

2. Equator can’t be drawn.

(b) For drawing meridians:

(viii) Draw a straight line vertically through N and number it zero at the bottom and 180° at the top.

(ix) Markout the positions of different meridians to east and west from zero at 15° interval.

(x) Join each of them with N and number them as 15°,30°,45°, 60°,75°, 90° ………. upto 180° east and west.


1. Parallels are concentric circles

2. Meridians are radiating straight lines

3. The lengths of the parallels and meridians increase from the centre of the map outwards. That is, areas towards the equator are exaggerated.

1. Projection is suitable for polar regions upto about 60°.

Now, follow the steps and complete the drawing –

2. Polar Zenithal Stereographic Projection

In this projection, plane surface is at one pole and the source of light is at the other pole.

Draw graticles of a Polar Zenithal Stereographic Projection for northern hemisphere at 15° interval.

The scale of the map is given as 1: 200,000,000

(i) Follow the steps (i) to (iv) exactly the same way as given in Polar Zenithal Gnomonic Projection.

(ii) Join the markings of NQ with S and extend to meet NM at q’, f’, g’, h’, i’, and j’.

(iii) Take a point N at the middle of your page.

(iv) Draw concentric circles taking N as the centre with radius Nq’, Nf’, Ng’, Nh’, Ni’ and Nj’ to represent 0°, 15°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 75° parallels.

(v) Follow the steps (viii) to (x) given under Polar Zenithal Gnomonic Projection.

In this projection all the parallels except 90° N (which is the centre of the map) can be drawn.

Same as Gnomonic projection. In this projection shape is maintained correctly.

Suitable for polar areas, Map of one complete hemisphere can be drawn. It is suitable for navigational charts for high latitudes.

Now, complete the drawing by following the steps mentioned.

3. Polar Zenithal Equidistant Projection :

As the name implies, the parallels of this projection are drawn in such a way that they are equidistant from each other. On the graticule, parallels are drawn at their true distances.

Draw the graticules of a Polar Zenithal Equidistant Projection of northern hemisphere at 15° interval.

The scale is given as 1: 200,000,000.

This is a non-perspective projection. That is, source of light is not considered.

(i) Complete steps (i) and (ii) of Gnomonic projection.

(ii) Draw 15° angle (∠QOR) on OQ.

(iii) Take a point N at the middle of your page. It will be the north pole in the map.

(iv) Draw a vertical line through N and mark out 6 divisions upward at ap interval of arc length QR. Let they be represented by a, b, c, d, e, and f.

(v) Draw concentric circles taking Na, Nb, Nc, Nd, Ne and Nf as radii to represent 75°, 60°, 45°, 30°, 15° and 0° parallels.

(vi) Draw meridians as before.

1. Here, parallels are concentric circles and meridians are radiating straight lines from the centre of the map.

2. Distances and directions are correct from the central point to any other points.

3. In this projection central area also gets exaggerated.

Suitable for polar areas but a complete hemisphere can also to be represented.

However, the area gets much exaggerated away from the centre.

Now complete the drawing following the steps mentioned.

Conical Projections :

Conical Projections are obtained by projecting parallels and meridians on a conical surface. The parallel along with the cone touches the globe is called standard parallel. In this type of projection, scale is correct only along the standard parallel.

Simple Conical Projection (with one standard parallel):

As the name implies, there will be only one standard parallel and the scale along this parallel will be correct.

Draw the graticule on a Simple Conical Projection with one standard parallel for the area covered by 15° N to 75°N latitudes and by 15°E to 135°E longitude. The scale of the map is given as 1:150,000,000 and interval 15°.

1. Radius of the earth = 635,000,000 cm.

2. Cone will touch the globe along a parallel at the middle of the extension which will be called standard parallel.

3. The central meridian should also be at the middle of the map.

(i) According to the given scale, calculate the radius of the reduced earth following the formula,

(ii) Find out the value of standard parallel from the extension 15°W to 75°N, which should be at the middle of the map.

From 15°N to 75°N at the interval of 15°N, there will be 5 parallels as 15°N, 30°N, 45°N, 60°N and 75°N. Therefore, value of the standard parallel will be 45°N.

(iii) Find out the value of the central meridian from the extension 15°E to 135°E which should also be at the middle of the map.

At the interval of 15°, there will be 9 meridians as 15°E, 30°E, 45°E, 60°E, 75°E, 90°E, 105°E, 120°E and 135°E. Therefore, 75°E will be the central meridian.

(iv) Draw a circle with 4.2 cm radius centering at 0 at the top of your page.

(v) Draw EOQ as equator and NOS as polar diameter.

(vi) Draw ∠QOL = 45° and draw a tangent at L in such a way that it meets SON (when extended) at M. Now, ML will be the radius to draw the Standard parallel.

(vii) Draw ∠EOA = 15°. Now, EA will be the distance between two parallels,

(viii) Again, draw a semi-circle at 0 with radius EA. The semi-circle will touch OL at X.

(ix) From X, draw a perpendicular XY on ON. Now, XY will be the distance between the meridians.

1. The parallels are concentric circles, and equidistant.

2. The meridians are radiating straight lines from the apex of the cone.

3. Scale is correct along the standard parallel as well as meridians.

4. The pole is also represented by the arc of a circle. Hence, the areas away from the standard parallel are exaggerated.

Projection is suitable for areas having smaller north-south but larger east-west extensions.

Now complete the drawing of the projection following the steps mentioned.

Cylindrical Projections :

Cylindrical Projections are obtained by projecting parallels and meridians on a cylindrical surface.

1. The cylinder touches the globe along the equator.

2. Light is placed at the centre of the globe.

3. It is a perspective projection.

Simple Cylindrical Projection :

In this projection, both the parallels and meridians are equidistant. They are drawn as straight lines, cutting one another at right angles. All the parallels are equal to the equator and all meridians are half of the equator. The scale along the equator and along all the meridians is correct. There is great distortion in shape of the area away from the equator.

Draw the graticules of a Simple Cylindrical Projection at 15° interval. The scale of the map is 1: 200,000,000.

Remember, Radius of the earth = 635,000,000 cm.

Length of the equator = 2πR.

(i) Calculate the radius of the reduced earth (R) according to the given scale.

= 3.18 cms.

(ii) Calculate the length of the equator (L).

= 2 x 3.14 x 3.18 cms.

= 19.90 cms.

(iii) Calculate the distance (d) between the meridians along the equator at 15° interval.

= 0.821 cms.

Construction of the Network :

For drawing parallels:

(iv) Draw a circle NBSQ with centre 0 and having radius 3.18 cms. on the left hand side of your paper, (place the paper lengthwise). Here, BQ is the equator.

(v) Extend BQ to P in such a way that QP = 19.90 cms.

(vi) Divide QP into 24 divisions taking 0.82 cms interval.

(vii) Draw a straight line RT perpendicular to QP at the middle of QP.

(viii) Markout 6 divisions above and 6 divisions below QP along RT with same interval .82 cms.

(ix) Draw straight lines through these divisions parallel and equal to QP. These are your parallels.

(x) Number the 6 parallels above QP as 15°,30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, and 90° N and 6 parallels below as S and QP as 0°.

For drawing meridians :

(xi) Draw straight lines through the markings on QP parallel and equal to RT. These are the required meridians.

(xii) Number RT as 0° to the right as E and to the left as W at 15° interval.

1. All the parallels and meridians are straight lines.

2. All the parallels are equal to the equator.

3. All the meridians are half of the equator.

4. Scale along the equator and meridians is correct but shape is not correct.

As there is too-much exaggeration of the polar region, the projection is suitable for world map of equatorial region.

The pole which is a point on the globe is made equal to the length of the equator. So, there will be too much exaggeration way from the equator.

Now, complete the drawing of the projection following the steps mentioned.

Cylindrical Equal Area Projection:

In this projection, the area between two parallels is made equal to the corresponding area in the globe.

1. Rays of light are assumed to come from infinity.

2. Shape is highly distorted in the areas away from the equator towards the poles.

Construct the graticule of a Cylindrical Equal Area Projection at 15° interval. The scale is given as 1: 200,000,000.

2. Length of the equator = 2πR .

3. Interval of meridians along the equator

(i) Follow steps from (i) to (vii) of the Simple Cylindrical Projection.

(ii) Draw OA, OB, OC, OD, and OE starting from N and OF, OG, OH, OI and OJ starting from Q at 15° interval.

(iii) Draw straight lines through P, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J and S parallel of QP. These will be the required parallels.

(iv) Follow steps (x) to (xii) as mentioned in the case of Simple Cylindrical Projection.

2. Meridians are equidistant.

3. Spacing of the parallel decreases away from the equator.

4. All the parallels have same lengths to the equator.

As shape is highly distorted in the polar region; the projection is useful to show distribution in the equatorial region.

Now, complete the drawing of the graticules following the steps mentioned.

Mercator’s projection :

Marcator’s Projection was invented by Geradus Mercator in 1569. This projection belongs to the cylindrical group of projections. It is a very famous projection ever devised. It is widely used for world map and is invaluable for navigation purposes both on the sea and in the air.

Properties of Mercator’s Projection :

1. Shape of Parallels:

The parallels of latitude are projected equal in length of the equator of the reduced earth.

2. The Parallel Scale:

The parallel scale along the equator is always true but it is exaggerated towards north and south. Polar regions are not shown in this projection.

3. Shape of Meridians:

The spacing of meridians is true to scale the equator.

4. Scale along Meridians:

The exaggeration of the scale along the parallels is accompanied by equal exaggeration of the scale along the meridians.

Construct a Macerator’s projection for the world map when R.F. is 1:320,000,000 and the latitude and longitude interval is 200.


1. Radius of the earth (R) = 637,000,000 cm

2. R.F. of the projection = 1: 320,000,000

3. Therefore, Radius of the Reduced Earth (r) can be calculated with the help of the following formula,

Radius of the reduced earth (r) = R.F./Radius of the earth (R)

= 1/ 320,000,000 ÷ 637,000,000

4. Length of the equator on the globe = 2πr

= 2 x 22/7 x 2

5. Now draw a line AB = 12.57 cm long to represent the equator.

6. Actually, the equator is a circle on the globe and is subtended by 360°. Since, the meridians are to be drawn at the interval of 20°, divide AB into 360 ÷ 20 or 18 equal parts.

7. Distance between two meridians on the equator will be:

Length of AB x interval/360 degree

= 12.57 x 20/360 = 0.698 cm or 0.7 cm

8. Draw perpendicular lines through the 18 markings each at a distance of 0.7 cm on the equator.

9. The distance of the parallels from the equator = Reduced value x r

10. To draw latitudes of 20, 40, 60 and 80 we will have to take the reduced values as 0.365, 0.763, 1.317 and 2.436 from the table.

11. Therefore distance of 20 degree parallel from the equator = 0.365 x 2 cm = 0.712 cm

Distance of 40 degree parallel from the equator = 0.763 x 2 cm = 1.526 cm

Distance of 60 degree parallel from the equator = 1.317 x 2 cm = 2.634 cm

Distance of 80 degree parallel from the equator = 2.436 x 2 cm = 4.872 cm

The 90 degree parallel cannot be drawn as the reduced value is infinity.

12. Now mark the points on both sides of the equator along any one of the perpendicular drawn on the equator.

13. Label all the parallels and meridians and the Mercators Projection is Ready.

1. This projection is orthographic as each meridian intersects the parallel at right angles and the scale ratio remains constant throughout.

2. Shape is preserved in this projection.

3. It shows the correct directions, it is always valuable to the navigators and pilots.

4. This projection is useful to show tropical countries.

5. This is most appropriate projection to show drainage patterns, routes, ocean currents, wind systems etc. on world map.

1. In the high latitudes there is great exaggeration of scale along the parallels and meridians. It is because the scale along the parallels and meridians increases rapidly towards the poles.

2. The size of the countries near the poles is highly exaggerated as compared to its actual size.

3. Through this projection poles cannot be shown because of exaggeration of scale along the 900 parallel and the meridians touching them are infinite.

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Importance of Maps to GIScience - Essay Example

Importance of Maps to GIScience

  • Subject: Environmental Studies
  • Type: Essay
  • Level: Masters
  • Pages: 6 (1500 words)
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