Have you seen a picture of countries on the atlas? Do you want to know how they are useful?
When you want to see a big object completely, you make a diagram of it with all the important details. Similarly, a diagram of a large piece of land with all landforms, rivers and lakes; is called a map.
Compared to globes,
Maps are drawn on flat surfaces and contain more details.
Yet, a map contains only a part of the earth’s surface.
Maps can be of different sizes and different measurements on the scale.
When many maps of different parts of the earth are put together, we get an Atlas.
Depending on the type of information that they give, maps can be divided into three types:
Physical maps: these maps give the information about different landforms in a part of the earth.
Political maps: these maps show the boundaries of countries, states, cities and towns of an area.
Thematic maps: these maps show specific information such as forests and plants in an area, and the population distribution or industries in an area. Specific names of maps depend on the information that they provide.
To get good information, there are three components of a map that are very essential: Distance, Direction and Symbols.
As we know, distance is the measurement of how far one place is from another. But since we cannot draw a large distance like 500 km on a map as it is, we choose scale.
A scale reduces the distance between two places in some ratio. For example, 500 km can be reduced to 5cm on a map. This is called scaling down a map. The scale of a map is at its top corner.
There are two types of maps depending on the scale:
A small-scale map shows very large area of land. This land needs to be scaled down significantly to fit in the map. The scales, therefore, are very small. For example, 1000 km is scaled down to 1 cm on a map. With such a high scaling down, detailed information about everything in that area is not possible here.
A large-scale map shows a very small area of land drawn on them. Since the area is not very large, the scaling down is not as high. For example, 1 cm on the map could only mean 100 m on the land.
Since the scaling down is much less, detailed information about the drawn surface is available on the map.
While drawing a map, we need to know directions of place. Otherwise, we won’t be able to go anywhere using the map. A compass always tells us the north direction. This is why, when we see a map, the north direction is shown with an arrow and the letter “N”. Once we know the north direction, we can figure out the other directions.
The four major directions of North, East, West and South are called the four cardinal points. There are four intermediate directions called North-East (NE), North-West (NW), South-East (SE) and South-West (SW). These directions help locate a place more accurately.
To show different places and features on a map, different symbols are used. This is because drawing an actual building, river, railway line, forest etc. on a map is impossible. This is why, certain alphabets, lines, shapes, pictures and colours are used to represent these marks on the maps.
These symbols make the drawing and understanding of maps very easy. Some symbols are used throughout the world as map symbols. These are called conventional symbols that all countries agree on using them in the same way.
Some colours also show specific details. For example, blue shows water bodies, brown shows mountains and hills, and green shows plains.
There are two methods for making a map:
A sketch map is made from memory. It is not up to any scale but it gives a rough idea about how to reach a place. You can draw this map to show your friends how to reach your home from school.
A plan map is drawn up to scale. However, this map shows a very small area such as a room. It shows the length and breadth of the room and its features such as doors, windows and floor. These plans can be very useful in making a building.
Maps are very useful to draw a piece of land on a paper. There are different types of maps. All maps have components like distance, direction and symbols to read a map easily. And you can sketch or plan a map.
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