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Splash Screen. Globes and Maps Projections Determining Location Reading a Map Physical Maps Political Maps Thematic Maps Geographic Information Systems. GEO HB Menu. Globes and Maps.

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geo hb menu

Globes and Maps


Determining Location

Reading a Map

Physical Maps

Political Maps

Thematic Maps

Geographic Information Systems

geography handbook

Globes and Maps

  • A globe is a scale model of the Earth that presents the most accurate depiction of geographic information such as area, distance, and direction.
  • A printed map is a symbolic representation of all or part of the planet.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook1

From 3-D to 2-D

  • To create maps that are not interrupted, mapmakers, or cartographers, use mathematical formulas to transfer information from the three-dimensional globe to the two-dimensional map.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook2

Great Circle Routes

  • A great circle is an imaginary line that follows the curve of the Earth and represents the shortest distance between two points.
  • Traveling along a great circle is called following a great circle route.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook3


  • To create maps, cartographers project the round Earth onto a flat surface—making a map projection.
  • Distance, shape, direction, or size may be distorted by a projection.
  • The three basic categories of map projections are planar,cylindrical,and conic.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook4

Projections (cont.)

Planar Projection

A planar projection shows the Earth centered in such a way that a straight line coming from the center to any other point represents the shortest distance. Also known as an azimuthal projection, it is most accurate at its center. As a result, it is often used for maps of the Poles.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook5

Projections (cont.)

Cylindrical Projection

A cylindrical projection is based on the projection of the globe onto a cylinder. This projection is most accurate near the Equator, but shapes and distances are distorted near the Poles.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook6

Projections (cont.)

Conic Projection

A conic projection comes from placing a cone over part of a globe. Conic projections are best suited for showing limited east-west areas that are not too far from the Equator. For these uses, a conic projection can indicate distances and directions fairly accurately.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook7

Common Map Projections

Most general reference world maps are the Winkel Tripel projection. It provides a good balance between the size and shape of land areas as they are shown on the map. Even the polar areas are depicted with little distortion of size and shape.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook8

Common Map Projections (cont.)

An interrupted projection resembles a globe that has been cut apart and laid flat. Goode’s Interrupted Equal-Area projection shows the true size and shape of Earth’s landmasses, but distances are generally distorted.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook9

Common Map Projections (cont.)

The Robinson projection has minor distortions. The sizes and shapes near the eastern and western edges of the map are accurate, and outlines of the continents appear much as they do on the globe. However, the polar areas are flattened.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook10

Common Map Projections (cont.)

The Mercator projection increasingly distorts size and distance as it moves away from the Equator. However, Mercator projections do accurately show true directions and the shapes of landmasses, making these maps useful for sea travel.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook11

Determining Location

  • The basic tool for answering the question “Where?”is location.
  • A grid system on maps and globes helps you find exact places on the Earth’s surface.
  • A hemisphere is one of the halves into which the Earth is divided. Most places are located in two of the four hemispheres.
Geography Handbook
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Determining Location (cont.)


Lines of latitude, or parallels, circle the Earth parallel to the Equator and measure the distance north or south of the Equator in degrees. The Equator is measured at 0° latitude, while the Poles lie at latitudes 90°N (north) and 90°S (south). Parallels north of the Equator are called north latitude. Parallels south of the Equator are called south latitude.

Geography Handbook
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Determining Location (cont.)


Lines of longitude, or meridians, circle the Earth from Pole to Pole. These lines measure distance east or west of the Prime Meridianat 0° longitude. Meridians east of the Prime Meridian are known as east longitude. Meridians west of the Prime Meridian are known as west longitude. The 180° meridian on the opposite side of the Earth is called the International Date Line.

Geography Handbook
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Determining Location (cont.)

The Global Grid

Every place has a global address, or absolute location. You can identify the absolute location of a place by naming the latitude and longitude lines that cross exactly at that place. For example, Tokyo, Japan, is located at 36°N latitude and 140°E longitude. For more precise readings, each degree is further divided into 60 units called minutes.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook15

Determining Location (cont.)

Northern and Southern Hemispheres

The diagram shows that the Equator divides the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Everything north of the Equator is in the Northern Hemisphere. Everything south of the Equator is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook16

Determining Location (cont.)

Eastern and Western Hemispheres

The Prime Meridian and the International Date Line divide the Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Everything east of the Prime Meridian for 180° is in the Eastern Hemisphere. Everything west of the Prime Meridian for 180° is in the Western Hemisphere.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook17

Reading a Map



Scale Bar

Compass Rose


Boundary Lines


Geography Handbook
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Using Scale

  • All maps are drawn to a certain scale.
  • Scale is a consistent, proportional relationship between the measurements shown on the map and the measurement of the Earth’s surface.
Geography Handbook
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Using Scale (cont.)

Small-Scale Maps

A small-scale map, like this political map of France, can show a large area but little detail.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook20

Using Scale (cont.)

Large-Scale Maps

A large-scale map, like this map of Paris, can show a small area with a great amount of detail.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook21

Absolute and Relative Location

  • Absolute location is the exact point where a line of latitude crosses a line of longitude.
  • Relative location is the location of one place in relation to another.
Geography Handbook
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Physical Maps

  • A physical map shows the location and the topography, or shape of the Earth’s physical features.
  • A study of a country’s physical features often helps to explain the historical development of the country.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook23

Physical Maps (cont.)

Water Features


Relief and Elevation

Political Features

Geography Handbook
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Political Maps

  • A political map shows the boundaries and locations of political units such as countries, states, counties, cities, and towns.
  • Many features depicted on a political map are human-made, or determined by humans rather than by nature.
  • Political maps can show the networks and links that exist within and between political units.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook25

Political Maps (cont.)

Human-Made Features

Physical Features

Nonsubject Area

Geography Handbook
geography handbook26

Thematic Maps

  • Maps that emphasize a single idea or a particular kind of information about an area are called thematic maps.
  • There are many kinds of thematic maps, such as climate, natural vegetation, population density, and economic activities maps.
Geography Handbook
geography handbook27

Thematic Maps (cont.)

Qualitative Maps

Qualitative maps use colors, symbols, lines, or dots to show information related to a specific idea. Such maps are often used to depict historical information.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook28

Thematic Maps (cont.)

Flow-Line Maps

Flow-line maps illustrate the movement of people, animals, goods, and ideas, as well as physical processes like hurricanes and glaciers. Arrows are usually used to represent the flow and direction of movement.

Geography Handbook
geography handbook29

Geographic Information Systems

  • Most cartographers use computers with software programs called geographic information systems (GIS).
  • A GIS is designed to accept data from different sources — maps, satellite images, printed text, and statistics.
  • Cartographers then program the GIS to process the data and produce maps.
  • This technology allows cartographers to make maps—and change them—quickly and easily.
Geography Handbook


a spherical representation of the Earth



a representation, usually on a flat surface, of the whole or part of an area



one that makes maps


great circle route

an imaginary line that follows the curve of the Earth and represents the shortest distance between two points


map projection

a mathematical formula used to represent the curved surface of the Earth on the flat surface of a map


planar projection

a map created by projecting an image of the Earth onto a plane


cylindrical projection

a map of Earth created by projecting Earth’s image onto a cylinder


conic projection

a map of the Earth created by placing a cone over part of an Earth model


interrupted projection

a map of the Earth in which the Earth’s surface appears cut along arbitrary lines, each section projected separately



a specific place on the Earth


grid system

pattern formed as the lines of latitude and longitude cross one another



half of a sphere or globe, as in the Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres



distance north or south from the equator measured in degrees



distance measured by degrees or time east or west from the Prime Meridian


Prime Meridian

the meridian of 0 degrees longitude from which other longitudes are calculated


absolute location

the exact position of a place on the Earth’s surface


Northern Hemisphere

the half of the Earth that lies north of the Equator


Southern Hemisphere

the half of the Earth that lies south of the Equator


Eastern Hemisphere

the part of Earth east of the Atlantic Ocean including Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; longitudes 20°W and 160°E often considered its boundaries


Western Hemisphere

the part of Earth west of the Atlantic Ocean comprising North and South America and surrounding waters; longitudes 20°W and 160°E often considered its boundaries



the size of a picture, plan, or model of a thing compared to the size of the thing itself


relative location

location in relation to other places


physical map

map that shows the location of natural features such as mountains and rivers; it can also show cities and countries



shape of the Earth’s physical features


political map

a map that shows the boundaries and locations of political units such as countries, states, counties, cities, and towns



made by humans rather than by nature


thematic maps

map that emphasizes a single idea or a particular kind of information about an area


qualitative maps

maps that use colors, symbols, lines, or dots to show information related to a specific idea


flow-line maps

map that shows the movement of people, animals, goods, ideas, and physical processes like hurricanes and glaciers


geographic information systems (GIS)

computer tools for processing and organizing details and satellite images with other pieces of information


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