Cartography or mapmaking is the study and practice of creating representations of the Earth on a flat surface. It combines science, technical, and aesthetics capability to make a balanced and readable representation which is able of communicating information quickly and effectively.

One problem in making maps is the easy reality, which the surface of the Earth, a curved surface in three-dimensional space that should be represented in two dimensions like a plane surface. This essentially entails several degree of distortion that can be dealt along with by employing projections which minimize distortion in specific areas. Moreover, the Earth is not a normal sphere, but its shape is conversely termed as a geoid, that is a highly irregular but accurately calculable and knowable shape.

Maps of all scales traditionally have been drawn and made through hand, but the present spread and advent of computers has revolutionized cartography. Mainly commercial-quality maps are this time made along with software, which falls into one of three major types: GIS, CAD and specialized demonstration software.

Implementation as tools, maps communicate spatial information through creating it visible. Spatial information is obtained from measurement of space and this can be saved in a database, from that this can be extracted for a variety of uses. Recent trends in this field are absent from analog methods of mapmaking and toward the increasingly dynamic’s creation, interactive maps which can be manipulated digitally.

Cartographic representation occupies the utilization of lines and symbols to demonstrate geographic phenomena. It can aid in an abstract in visualizing space and portable set-up. The cartographic process rests on the premise, which the world is measurable and which we can make reliable models or representations of such reality.


The earliest identified map to date is a wall painting of the ancient Turkish city of Catal Huyuk that has been dated to the late 7th millennium BCE. The other identified maps of the prehistoric world comprises the Minoan “House of the Admiral” wall painting from c. 1600 BCE representing a seaside community in an oblique point of view, and an engraved map of the holy Babylonian city of Nippur, by the Kassite durations (14th–12th centuries BCE). The ancient Greeks and Romans created maps starting with Anaximander in the 6th century BC. In prehistoric China, geographical literature spans back to the 5th century BC. The oldest extant Chinese maps arrive from the State of Qin, dated back to the 4th century BC throughout the Warring States era.

Early forms of cartography in India comprised legendary paintings; maps of locations illustrated in Indian epic poetry, for instance: the Ramayana. Indian cartographic traditions covered also the places of the Pole star, and the other constellations of utilize.

Mappa mundi is the usual term utilized to illustrated Medieval European maps of the world. Around 1,100 mapped mundi are termed to have survived from the middle ages. Of these, several 900 are determined demonstrating manuscripts and the remainder exists as stand-only documents
Within the Age of Exploration from the 15th century to the 17th century, cartographers both copied previously maps several of that had been passed down for centuries and also drew their own based upon explorers' observations and modern surveying techniques. The invention of the magnetic telescope, compass and sextant enabled raising accuracy.

Because of the sheer physical complexities inherent in cartography, map-makers normally lifted material by earlier works without providing credit to the original cartographer. For instance, one of the most popular early maps of North America is unofficially termed as the Beaver Map that published in 1715 through Herman Moll. This map is a specific reproduction of a 1698 work through Nicolas de Fer. De Fer in turn had copied images which were initially printed in books through Louis Hennepin, published in year 1697, and François Du Creux, in year 1664. By the 1700s, map-makers started to provide credit to the original engraver through printing the phrase "After [the original cartographer]" on the work.

Technological changes:

Within cartography, technology has continually modified in order to meet the demands of modern generations of map users and mapmakers. The initially maps were physically generated along with brushes and parchment and therefore varied in quality and were restricted in distribution. The advent of magnetic devices, like: the compass and much later magnetic storage devices permitted for the creation of far more exact maps and the capability to manipulate and store them digitally.

Progress in mechanical devices like: the printing press, vernier and quadrant permitted for the mass production of maps and the capability to create exact reproductions from more correct data. Optical technology, as the sextant, telescope and the other devices which utilize telescopes, permitted for precise surveying of land and the capability of mapmakers and navigators to determine their latitude through measuring angles to the North Star in night or the sun in noon.

Development in photochemical technology, as the photochemical and lithographic procedure that have permitted for the creation of maps which have appropriate details, do not distort in shape and wear and resist the moisture. It too removed the requirement for engraving that further shortened the time this takes to reproduce and create maps.

During the late twentieth century and early 21st century advances in electronic technology led to a modern revolution in cartography. Particularly, computer hardware devices: computer scanners, screens, printers, plotters as well as remote and document and analytic stereo plotters with imagination, spatial analysis, image processing and database software such have democratized and very much expanded the making of maps. The capability to superimpose spatially situated variables into existing maps generates new utilizations for maps and latest industries to exploit and explore such potentials.

Map types:

General vs. thematic cartography:

In considerate the basic maps, the field of cartography can be further divided into two common categories: thematic and general cartography. General cartography occupies those maps which are constructed for a general audience and hence comprise various features. General maps show various location and reference systems and frequently are produced in a series. For illustration: the 1:24,000 scale topographic maps of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) are a standard like compared to the 1:50,000 scale Canadian maps. The government of the UK generates the classic 1:63,360 (1 inch to 1 mile) "Ordnance Survey" maps of the whole UK and along with a range of correlated larger- and smaller-scale maps of big detail.

Thematic cartography occupies maps of exact geographic themes oriented toward exact audiences. A couple of illustrations might be a dot map exhibits corn production in Indiana or a shaded regions map of Ohio counties separated into numerical choropleth classes. Like the volume of geographic data has exploded above the previous century, thematic cartography has turn into increasingly helpful and essential to interpret cultural, spatial and social data.

An orienteering map merges both thematic and general cartography, considered for an extremely exact user community. The main prominent thematic element is shading, which implies degrees of complexity of travel. The vegetation itself is not known, only classified through the complexity ("fight") that it exhibits.

Topographic vs. topological

A topographic map is mainly associated along with the topographic description of a place, consisting of (particularly in the 20th century) the utilization of contour lines exhibiting elevation. Terrain or relief can be exhibit in many ways.

A topological map is an extremely common type of map, the kind you may sketch on a napkin. This normally disregards scale and detail in the interest of simplicity of communicating exact relational or route information.

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