What are the different types of cards?


A map is a symbolic representation of an actual feature or area on a flat surface. Maps are useful because they illustrate the specific and detailed characteristics of a given area, region, or object. They represent features such as boundaries, topography, physical features, climate, and even economic activities. There are different types of maps, including dimensional, static, dynamic, and interactive maps. Maps have been used since ancient times when they may have been produced and used as necessary tools for identification and navigation. Maps became more precise and factual from the 17th to the 19th century, as various countries adopted national mapping programs. The widespread use of aerial photography during World War I significantly contributed to the process of creating maps. Below are some of the different types of cards.

Topographic map

A topographic map is a type of map that shows large-scale detail and quantitative information about the landform using contour lines and various other methods. The map shows both man-made and natural topographic features. A topographic map is based on a topographic survey which has been carried out on a large scale and shows varieties of elevations and landforms. Topographic maps have a variety of uses including geographic planning, civil engineering, large-scale architecture, and recreation such as hiking. Items on the map are usually represented by conventional signs and symbols. For example, different colors can be used to indicate different classifications of roads. Signs are usually explained just below the map or on the margins. In addition to contour lines, topographic maps also show forest cover, water bodies and buildings.

Geological map

A geological map is a map used to show geological features such as geological strata and rock units. The location of these features below the earth’s surface is indicated by symbols or colors. Other features such as fault lines, foliations, and folds are represented by direction and dip symbols that give them a three-dimensional orientation. There are two main types of orientation measurements: the orientation of planes measured as “dip” and “hit” and the orientation of lines measured as “trend” and “dive”. Trend and dip are symbolized by single arrows and are used for line features, while axis and dip are symbolized by a long centerline perpendicular to the direction of the slope. In the United States, geologic maps are overlaid on topographic maps with additional colored masks with letters to represent a geologic unit. In the UK the term ‘geological map’ is used instead of ‘geological map’.

Political map

World maps are usually political or physical. A political map is a map that shows the political characteristics of an area, country or region. It shows the different borders or territorial limits of a region or country, the location of major areas or cities, and important land masses such as bodies of water. There are different sizes of political cards. Some of these maps cover an entire continent, an entire region, state, or country. One of the main features of a political map is geographic boundaries. Borders between countries, cities or states are indicated by lines. Political maps help understand the geography of the world and are usually the first maps students see in school. This type of card is also called a “reference card” and is printed on a physical or paper medium. It can also be produced digitally for online use.

Physical map

As the name suggests, physical maps are maps that have been designed to show the physical or natural features of the Earth’s landscape. Maps are best known for showing several geographic features such as soil type, mountains, and land use, including infrastructure developments such as roads and buildings. Physical cards are among the most colorful cards with a different color used to indicate different physical characteristics. Most maps use a color scheme ranging from green to brown to gray to show elevation. A dark green color is used to indicate elevations near sea level and brown for higher elevations. Water bodies such as lakes, rivers and oceans are often indicated by a blue color (light blue for shallow areas and dark blue for deeper water). Ice and glacier are shown in white. Cultural information is not the focus of physical maps, but can be included on the map for geographic reference purposes.

Road map

Road maps, also called road maps, show roads and other transport links. These are navigation maps that also include political boundaries, making them part of political maps. Besides roads and boundaries, road maps also indicate some points of interest such as sights, important buildings, recreational facilities like parks and restaurants, train stations and airports. Cards come in different sizes, shapes and scales. Small maps are used to show the overview of major roads or routes in an area while large maps give more detail and cover a large area. Road maps give an overview of the main roads in an area. Street maps mainly cover areas of a city or metropolitan area. A collection of road maps put together in a book is called a road atlas. Road maps often use thin lines to indicate minor roads and thicker or brighter colors to indicate major roads.

Cadastre map

A cadastral map is a map showing the real estate of a country. It includes the location, area, ownership, value and tenure of an individual parcel of land. According to the International Federation of Surveyors, a cadastre is an up-to-date land information system that contains records of land interests such as restrictions, rights and responsibilities. It includes the geometric description of the land and is used with other documents describing the nature of the interest, the controls for such interest and the value of the parcel of land. Some maps also show additional information such as the parcel identification number, the name of the survey district, the number of the title certificate, the names of adjacent streets and the position of existing structures.

Points distribution map

As the name suggests, a point distribution map is a type of map that uses point symbols to indicate the presence of features and relies on visual dispersions to show spatial patterns. There are two main types of point distribution maps; one-to-one and one-to-many. In a one-to-one point map, each point shows a single record of a feature. In a one-to-many point map, a point on the map shows more than one mapped feature but the point distribution does not show the actual location because they are placed arbitrarily on the map. Point distribution maps are useful when mapping features that change smoothly in space. However, the random placement of dots can make the card ineffective in communicating its messages.

Thematic map

A thematic map is a map designed to highlight a theme related to a specific geographic area. Unlike a general reference map which shows several phenomena (geographic, political and geological), the thematic map focuses on a specific area and uses basic data only as a reference point for the entity being mapped. Thematic maps also emphasize spatial variation across a number of geographic distributions such as climate, population density, and health. The map serves three main purposes: to provide information about a specific piece of information, to provide general information about the spatial model, and to compare models on different maps.


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