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A Basic Guide to Maps and Geography


Globe - A true-to-scale map of the Earth that duplicates its round shape and correctly represents areas, relative size and shape of physical features, distances, and directions.

Nautical Chart - A graphic portrayal of the marine environment showing the nature and form of the coast, the general configuration of the sea bottom, including water depths, locations of dangers to navigation, locations and characteristics of human-made aids to navigation and other features useful to the mariner

Political Map - A map that defines an area by the boundaries of political areas like cities, counties, or nations.

Thematic Map A map designed to provide information on a single topic, such as geology, rainfall, population.

Topographic Map - A map that uses contours to show shape and elevation of terrain.  Individual maps are commonly referred to as quadrangles or quads.