This unit discusses the different types of maps

Classes of Map

There are many different types of maps. In practice we normally think of two classes of map:

Topographic map

topographic maps

– a reference tool, showing the outlines of selected natural and man-made features of the Earth; often acts as a frame for other information. “Topography” refers to the shape of the Earth’s surface, represented by contours and/or shading, but topographic maps also show roads and other prominent features

Thematic map

thematic map

– a tool to communicate geographical concepts such as the distribution of population densities, climate, movement of goods, land use, etc.

Geologic Maps

A geologic map is a map of the different types of rocks that are on the surface of the Earth. By mapping different rock types, geologists can determine the relationships between different rock formations which can then be used to find mineral resources, oil, and gravel deposits. Also, you want to know what type of rock you are building on or else you might have a leaning building or a pile of rubble resulting from a collapsed building.



A globe is a map. Globes are some of the most accurate maps that exist. This is because the earth is a three-dimensional object that is close to spherical. A globe is an accurate representation of the spherical shape of the world.

Mental Maps

The term mental map refers to the maps that are not actually produced and just exist in our minds. These maps are what allow us to remember the routes that we take to get somewhere. They exist because people think in terms of spatial relationships and vary from person to person because they are based on one’s own perception of the world.

Biogeographic Maps

biogeographic maps

Scientists involved in the study of animals, plants, and other living organisms use maps to illustrate where these groups live or migrate. It is important to many zoologists to know where the organisms that they study live and where they move to. People who monitor endangered species need to know if the ranges of migration have become larger or smaller through time.

Environmental Maps

environmental maps

These types of maps include maps that look at human’s activity in urban and metropolitan areas and the environment in which we all live. Maps that illustrate physiographic features such as forests, grassland, woodland, tundra, grazing land, ocean floors, and ocean sediments could be included in this large grouping.

Resource Map

resource map

A resource map which is also called an economic map shows and represents the natural resources and the economic activity of different regions of an area.

Climate Maps

climate map

The climate maps give information about the climate of an area or a region. A climate map can be of a country, showing climates at different cities, of a continent or the world showing climate of different countries.

Meteorological maps

metereological maps

Meteorological maps that show climate, weather and wind are types of environmental maps. Meteorologists, oceanographers, geographers, city planners, and many other professionals depend greatly on these maps to record and forecast their specific field.

Physical Map

physical map

A physical map is a map that represents the physical features of an area such as: vegetation, mountains, rivers, sea and lakes.

Road Maps

road map

Road maps are of cities and towns which show all the routes of the cities and demonstrate the important roads and locations. Road maps show the location of important hospitals, airport and buildings of the city. Road maps are very important and helpful maps, especially for the tourists visiting a city.

Political Maps

political map

Political maps are simple basic maps which tell about the national boundaries, capital, states, LGAs and other administrative units of a country.


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