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How Maps Work: Cartography Conventions
Image: iStockphoto.com/Stragglist

How Maps Work: Cartography Conventions

Topographic, physical, political, historical — there are many types of maps and globes. Yet, no matter the type and who is creating them, cartographers follow a standard set of rules or conventions.

Explore latitude, longitude, and other coordinate systems, as well as legends, scale, and how these elements change when depicted in 2D and 3D.

HowStuffWorks
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What Is a Time Zone?

What Is a Time Zone?

The prime meridian on maps also serves as the Greenwich Meridian. Find out how it relates to time zones — along with why we have them, who uses them, and how Daylight Saving Time works. More...

Article
Time & Date
Race to Build Planet Earth from the Ocean Up!

Race to Build Planet Earth from the Ocean Up!

How well do you know your planet? Race against the clock to see how fast you can place Earth's poles, continents, oceans, mountains, and more on an empty globe. More...

Game
National Geographic
Create a Topographic Map

Create a Topographic Map

With clay, toothpicks, dental floss, and a few other items, you can make an accurate topographic map of your own handmade mountain. Try it! More...

Activity
education.com
GIS (Geographic Information System)

GIS (Geographic Information System)

GIS, or geographic information system, is the newest technology used to generate maps. Take a look at how it helps place maps in the palm of your hand. More...

Article
National Geographic
Globe

Globe

These 3D models of the Earth have been around more than 2,000 years. See how they've changed over time — and what other spherical objects have been mapped onto globes. More...

Article
National Geographic
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How to Read a Topographic Map

How to Read a Topographic Map

Ever looked at a topographic (topo) map and wondered what all the lines and symbols mean? If so, check out this guide and you'll be fluent in topo maps in no time. More...

Article
HowStuffWorks
Map

Map

From settlement patterns and land features to travel routes and climate zones, take a closer look at how maps are made and used. More...

Article
National Geographic
MapMaker Interactive

MapMaker Interactive

How far is it from Hudson Bay to the Mediterranean Sea? How do the countries of the world stack up when it comes to alternative energy use? Explore dozens of maps and create your own custom views. More...

Interactive
National Geographic
Mapping History

Mapping History

Maps can, and have, changed the course of history. Find out how cartographers helped the Allied forces win WWII. Then meet Arthur H. Robinson, who solved the "Greenland Problem." More...

Article
Georgia State University
Relative Dating of Rocks Using Fossils

Relative Dating of Rocks Using Fossils

Find out how William Smith — an "obscure British canal surveyor" — helped trigger a scientific revolution when he created the first geological map of England in 1815. More...

Profile
University of California Museum of Paleontology
Satellite Reveals New Views of Earth at Night

Satellite Reveals New Views of Earth at Night

Take one high-tech satellite and have it orbit Earth 312 times and what do you get. This amazingly detailed globe of our planet at night. More...

Video
NASA
The Waldseemuller Map: Charting the New World

The Waldseemuller Map: Charting the New World

Take a look at a revolutionary 500-year-old map of the world and find out the story of how "America" got its name. More...

Article
Smithsonian
Using Tech to Put an ‘Invisible’ Slum On The Map

Using Tech to Put an ‘Invisible’ Slum On The Map

Slums don't follow grids or have officially sanctioned street names. Getting them on the map has been historically difficult...until now. More...

Article
NPR

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