Cartography is defined as the study and practice of making maps and charts. Humans have been creating maps to communicate spatial arrangements since the earliest civilizations to help with travel. The earliest known maps charted the stars, and it wasn’t until the classical era that maps of Earth came into prominence. The field of cartography as we know it today has evolved considerably due to technological advancements and our increased understanding of the universe, and it is now commonly referred to as geographic information systems (GIS). The links below cover a variety of topics regarding the field of cartography, ranging from its history to mapping terminology and modern technology.
What Is Cartography?
- Brief History of Maps and Cartography: This site offers a brief overview of maps, the origins of cartography, and its relevance today.
- Mapmaking and its History: Early cartographers learned these important facts about the Earth.
- Pre-Colonial Maps: An online exhibit of pre-colonial maps of India highlights the achievements of several influential cartographers.
- Maps and Map Analysis: These course notes from the Geography Department at the University of British Columbia provide an overview of map uses and characteristics and their influence on computer-assisted cartography.
- What Cartographers Do: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at the job requirements for cartographers and photogrammetrists.
- Nine World-Changing Maps: A map of the human genome, the Internet, and the London Underground are just a few of the most influential maps featured here.
Influential Mapmakers and Explorers
- Indian Cartography and the Lewis and Clark Expedition: In his essay, James Ronda focuses on the cartographic contributions of the indigenous peoples Lewis and Clark encountered on their expedition.
- Route Mapping on the Lewis and Clark Expedition: An article from the Smithsonian Institution highlights the different types of maps compiled during the Lewis and Clark expedition.
- Ptolemy and the Development of the Printed Atlas: An overview of Ptolemy’s contributions to cartography, including coordinate systems.
- Early Mapmakers: In an article on ancient mapmakers, the author focuses on the earliest geographic projections.
- Eratosthenes’ Measurement of the Earth: Eratosthenes used his knowledge of the Earth’s circumference to create the first world map to incorporate latitude and longitude.
- Cartography of Al-Sharif Al Idrisi: An overview of the cartographic works of Al Idrisi and their influence on later authors.
Learning the Lingo of Cartography
- Glossary of Cartographic Terms: The Perry-Castaneda Library at the University of Texas offers a comprehensive glossary of cartographic terms, including the definition of the discipline of cartography.
- Dictionary of Abbreviations and Acronyms in Geographic Information Systems, Cartography, and Remote Sensing: The University of California at Berkeley’s Earth Sciences & Map Library provides a comprehensive list of abbreviations found in various geographic publications.
- Cartography Key Words and Phrases: Definitions of various cartographic terms and concepts are referenced in a course at Villanova University.
- Basic Mapping Concepts: The Biological Sciences Department at Edgewood College provides a brief introduction to basic mapping terminology.
- Introduction to Map Design: This document explains several important map terms, including scale and projections.
- Latitude and Longitude: A brief overview of the coordinate system and how to read it on a map.
The Parts of a Map
- Cartography Guidelines: A list and explanation of essential map elements, including title, legend, scale, and orientation.
- The Elements of a Map: There are many different types of maps, and they each serve a different purpose. This presentation provides an overview of common elements that all maps share.
- Map Projections: The Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science offers a comprehensive list of map projections optimized for printing.
- Basic Elements of Map Composition: An explanation of the types of information found on maps and their overall composition and layout.
- Anatomy of a Map: Learn how to better interpret maps by familiarizing yourself with the terms found on this page.
- What is GIS? This slideshow offers a comprehensive introduction to GIS, or geographic information systems.
- Cartography and Remote Sensing Technologies: How technological advances in remote sensing technologies have transformed the field of cartography.
- What Is Remote Sensing? An introduction to remote sensing technology from the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas.
- Modern Cartography: This presentation examines current trends to answer the question regarding the role of cartography in modern society.
- The New Cartographers: This article from Science magazine discusses the career paths for modern cartographers and geographers.
- Elements of Cartographic Style: In order to effectively communicate information, there are several design factors to take into account when creating a map.