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Flashcards in Geography - Maps and Cartography Deck (53)
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What defines a geographical entity?

Location (spatial reference)
This may be as an absolute or relative location

Size, shape

Name, magnitude (e.g. temperature, value, population)

When – important so that change / trends can be analysed


How can spatial data be collected or represented?

Polygons / areas
Continuous surfaces


What's so special about spatial data?

Geographic (spatial) data is multi dimensional

There are lots of it – it is voluminous

It can be represented / viewed at multiple scales

It requires a projection system to turn a 3D real world into a 2D computer model or paper map

Special analysis techniques are required – nearest, furthest etc

It can be laborious and time consuming to collect, process and analyses

It is expensive and complex to maintain up to date geographic data


What is a map?

Maps are a model of the ‘real World’ (or real World phenomena)

They have many purposes, but primarily communication

They require abstraction / generalization


What roles do maps have in society?

Means of communication

Means of navigation

Storage medium for spatial (and other) information

Provides a picture that allows analysis of spatial relationships, patterns and complexity

Maps as power
Ownership and economic value

Geopolitical power


How do maps help with communication?

Maps should capture the spatial character of the area to help the reader understand the geographical relationships between objects/areas

Cartography should be able to communicate this information
A map designer (cartographer) should consider how best to represent spatial data so that users can retrieve the desired information


What is the earliest evidence of maps?

Earliest evidence of maps comes from clay tablets, dated to pre 4000 BP


Give an example of mapping for science.

2500BP - Erastothenes calculated the circumference of the Earth using angular measurements


Give a brief overview of Ptolemy.

Claudius Ptolemaeus wrote a ‘Guide to Geography’ (~150 AD)

A systematic set of tables, distances and geographical information (not maps – but turned into maps later) – a ‘digital’ revolution before its time!

Proposed a system of projections and coordinate systems (still the basis of today’s systems)



“these things belong to the loftiest and loveliest of intellectual pursuits, namely to exhibit to human understanding through mathematics……the nature of the earth through a portrait since the real earth, being enormous and not surrounding us, cannot be inspected by any one person either as a whole or part by part” Ptolemy (Geography – 150AD)


What maps have been shown as a sign of power?

A T-O Map, that was first printed in the 13th century


What is a T-O map?

This is a map defined by theology, rather than geography, where place is understood through faith rather than location, and time according to biblical events (Brotton, 2012)

Hereford Mappamundi


What maps have illustrated property and land ownership?

With the rise of agriculture, humans settled more permanently and used maps to delineate property and ownership.

This mappiform example is from Valcamonica in Italy, dated as around 3000 years BP, shows fields and houses carved on rock.

The carvings have been traced out onto an overlay. The interpretation is one of property ownership and control of the land.


What are modern cadastral maps?

Managed in the UK by Land Registry (England & Wales)

A source of record as to who owns what and when


What are way-finding and navigational maps?

These stick-maps (mattang) were used, and were still in use until recently, in Polynesia.

They are a way-finding tool to navigate between islands using swell waves refracted by the islands.

They were traditionally never taken to sea, but memorised.


What is another example of way-finding and navigational maps?

Another navigational device from Ammassalik, Greenland/ Kalaallit Nunaat (1880) given to Gustav Holm (with instructions).

Carved pieces of wood (wood floats) to help navigate the fjords when sea-fishing.


Who was Gerardus Mercator, and what was his significance to mapping?

Mercator devised a system of projecting the spheroid of the World onto a flat piece of paper – a way of visualising the World that we still use and recognise today – e.g. Google Maps/earth etc


Summarise Spatial Data.

Spatial data require ‘special’ considerations

The use of spatial data informs geographical knowledge and mapping communicates this data

Maps are designed to communicate spatial information for many purposes – cartography is, therefore, not just a simple process, but an art, a science and an evolving technology.


What are maps?

Maps are ‘abstractions’ to produce a model of reality (usually to some form of scale)


What do maps require?



What is map design?

Map design is primarily a function of the purpose (as well as who is making the map).


What functions can maps be grouped by?

General purpose or reference maps
e.g. atlas maps, topographic maps (e.g. Ordnance Survey)

Special purpose maps
e.g. Navigation maps, cadastral maps

Thematic maps
e.g. land cover, numerical data, qualitative data


What purposes are thematic maps produced for?

To provide information on what, and often how much of something is present (i.e. data storage / repository)

To map the characteristics of a phenomena, revealing a spatial order and/or organisation (visualisation)

To present findings to an audience (communication)


Give an example of geovisualisation.

MacEachren’s ‘cartography-cubed’ model – visualization is private, interactive and reveals unknowns; communication is public, non-interactive and reveals knowns


What are the general principles of map designs?

Map layout
Scale and generalisation
Classification – chloropleth mapping


What is the link with gestalt in mapping?

Maps consists of elements

Human cognition is based on clumping

Elements seen both individually and holistically

Eye seeks similarity, proximity, continuity, closure

Symmetry, simplicity, balance favoured


By convention, what should maps include?

Indication of scale

Arrangements of objects around a ‘natural centre’


What was considered a response to Eurocentrism?

McArthur’s Universal Corrective Map of the World 1979


Where should the prime meridian be?

The zero line of longitude could have been placed anywhere on the globe.

International Meridian Conference voted on Greenwich in 1884.

Many World maps centre on Greenwich, which shows Europe as taking centre place, usually in conjunction with a Europe-enlarging Mercator projection!


What countries tend to use the International Dateline?

Centring of world maps on the international dateline is common practice in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and China, naturally.