Choose The World Map Style To Suit Your Style

The world itself may not have changed much over the past 10,000 years, but the way we look at the world and the way that we create world maps has changed beyond recognition, with maps now not only showing such things as the shape of the land and the continents, but also providing data on such things as population, politics, geology, and meteorology. This advance and progress in mapping types has been increased with internet technology, since many people can now view this kind of data online, while it is also possible to buy map software which can show the traditional map along with much of the data outlined above.

So when people think of finding a world map one of the first things they often think about is an internet map, since this is the type that is usually readily available and easy to access, usually through one of the main search engine providers such as Microsoft [MSN] and the Terraserver application, and of course the maps by Google.

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However, although these digital online maps may be provided in a radically different format than the traditional map, they really just follow a way of map-making that goes back hundreds of years, right back to the medieval maps of ancient Europe. These were known as Mappi Mundi, the Latin title that means "chart of the world", and these ancient maps, although they were simple, gave the first map representation of the world as it was then known. Ancient maps, even medieval maps that were the best for the day, were not particular accurate, and were used simply to show the different regions of the world and how the world was constructed. Many of these maps were very ornate, and since they were actually hand-drawn maps, they included a lot of original artwork including figures from mythology and so on.

As time went on, and cartographic techniques became much better, the maps became much more accurate, and once a three-dimensional map image could be projected onto a flat surface, these maps became highly accurate and could be used for shipping navigation, enabling people to follow mapped sea routes to all the countries of the world. Maps are produced using different projections, although the most common one is known as the Mercator Projection, with maps using this particular mapping technique often being the ones seen in school, often in the form of large wall maps, especially laminated maps used as part of everyday education. Other types of map projection include the Azimuthal conformal projection, the Cahill octahedral butterfly projection, and the Dymaxion projection. There is also one used for plotting worldwide airline routes, and this is called the Lambert Conformal Conic projection.

Elevation maps

Other very commonplace maps include the elevation map, a topographical map which shows the various heights of natural phenomena such as mountain ranges, hills and valleys, with some types of elevation map using colors so that the various contour lines can be easily distinguished. As mentioned above, some maps will also include data about political makeup in the country, as well as data relating to the weather, climate, agriculture, and geology. These maps will also use various color coding to distinguish between the different data sets.

However, the thing that has made a real difference to the progress of map making more than anything else is the rise in the use of digital mapping technology, which has increased the accuracy of world maps, and also increased the number of map types that can be used for specialized subjects such as navigation on shipping routes and airline navigation. This has coincided with another revolution in map-making technology, which is that of the 3-D map, maps which are highly accurate and can also provide a realistic view into the way the world actually looks. Not only do they show physical phenomena such as mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, and the shoreline of countries and continents, but can also show man-made phenomena such as roads, railways, and other large-scale types of infrastructure.

Street-level photography

These maps are often produced using a mixture of traditional surveying techniques -- such as land surveying using theodolites and ground measurement equipment -- and aerial mapping and satellite imagery, all of which makes for a highly accurate and realistic depiction of the landscape. With 3-D technology for instance, the cityscape can be accurately rendered to show not only buildings from above, but also how they look from street level, something which, when used with street-level photography and animation, and is something which, when seen on the internet, can make for a realism that until just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.

This sense of realism can be enhanced even further when it is used alongside GPS technology [global positioning system technology] which uses satellite mapping techniques, because this makes it possible to actually be on the ground at the map coordinate and also see how the ground looks from above by viewing it on the screen of your handheld GPS unit.

Meteorological data

For those who want to have all the data that they can possibly get, there are very high end systems available -- some costing upwards of $4000 -- that will not only provide 3-D mapping, along with some aerial views of the terrain, but will also allow you to see meteorological data, real-time weather maps, and even marine mapping data, including weather data and undersea geology. This is all provided by satellite technology, and can be used for educational purposes, but more often than not is mainly confined to commercial applications on large-scale shapes, or for leisure purposes when used on a leisure craft.

As can be seen, world map styles have changed immensely over the past few hundred years, but have changed beyond recognition in the past decade. Even for those who want to spend just a few hundred dollars, the amount of data and information now available is absolutely incredible compared to what would have been available just 50 years ago. Take time to look at all the options, because by just spending a little bit of money you can open up a world of maps that can stagger the imagination.

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