What are the Different Types of Maps

What are the Different Types of Maps

A map is a drawing of the earth’s surface or part of that surface. It shows the shape and position of different countries, political borders, natural features such as rivers and mountains, and artificial features such as roads and buildings. There are many types of maps, and they are generally classified according to their content and purpose.

Physical Map

A physical map shows the physical features of a place. These physical features generally include things like mountains, lakes, and rivers. Water is always shown in blue color. The change in elevation is usually shown in different colors and shades. Lower elevations are usually indicated in green whereas higher elevations are indicated in brown color.

What are the Different Types of Maps

Topographical Map

Topographical maps are similar to physical maps since they also indicate different physical features of the earth. Instead of using colors, these maps use contours. They are also characterized by large-scale detail. Topographical maps also indicate man- made structures. You can see the difference between a physical map and a topographical map by observing the following map.

What are the Different Types of Maps - topogrophical map

Political Map

A political map does not indicate any physical features of the land. They indicate the boundaries of states and countries. Different countries are usually in different colors. They also show capitals and major cities.

What are the Different Types of Maps - political map

Climate Map

A climate map indicates the climate of an area. It gives general information about the climate and precipitation of a region. Different colors are used to show different climate or precipitation zones.

What are the Different Types of Maps - climate map

Economic or Resource Map

An economic map or resource map indicates general information about economic activities and natural resources in a particular region. Different colors and symbols are used to indicate this information. The following map is an economic activity map of Panama, made in 1981. Note how the information has been clearly conveyed in this map.

What are the Different Types of Maps - economic map

Thematic Map

A thematic map is a map specially designed to indicate a specific theme connected to a particular geographical location. They can depict physical, political, cultural, social, economic, agricultural, or any other aspects of a region. A thematic map can focus on a natural phenomenon like rainfall or fertility of soil, or it can focus on human characteristics such as population growth and health problems.

What are the Different Types of Maps - thematic map

Road Map

Road maps are one of the most widely used maps. Road maps indicate major and minor roads, highways and railways. They also indicate important locations in an area such as hospitals, airports, and other places of interests.

What are the Different Types of Maps - road map

Image Courtesy:

“World map” by ) (Public Domain) via

“A topographic map” (Public Domain) via

“Political world map” by  (Public Domain) via

“Worldwide climate classifications” Original uploader: Waitak at en.wikipedia. Later version(s) uploaded by Splette at en.wikipedia. – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Legoktm using Commons Helper.  via Commons Wikimedia 

“An economic activity map of Panama, 1981″ (Public Domain) via

“United States Soil Moisture Regimes” By Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture – soils.USDA.gov (Public Domain) via   

“Locality of Easter Road football stadium” via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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