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Portal:Maps

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The Maps Portal

Political and physical world map from the end of 2005

A map is a symbolic depiction emphasizing relationships between elements of some space, such as objects, regions, or themes.

Many maps are static, fixed to paper or some other durable medium, while others are dynamic or interactive. Although most commonly used to depict geography, maps may represent any space, real or fictional, without regard to context or scale, such as in brain mapping, DNA mapping, or computer network topology mapping. The space being mapped may be two dimensional, such as the surface of the earth, three dimensional, such as the interior of the earth, or even more abstract spaces of any dimension, such as arise in modeling phenomena having many independent variables.

Although the earliest maps known are of the heavens, geographic maps of territory have a very long tradition and exist from ancient times. The word "map" comes from the medieval Latin Mappa mundi, wherein mappa meant napkin or cloth and mundi the world. Thus, "map" became the shortened term referring to a two-dimensional representation of the surface of the world.

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Satellite view of the fractal coastline of Greenland
Credit: NASA
In English usage a fjord is a narrow inlet of the sea between cliffs or steep slopes, which results from marine inundation of a glaciated valley. Fjords are found in locations where current or past glaciation extended below current sea level. The fractal coastline of eastern Greenland, seen here, has many fjords. At the bottom is the longest fjord in the world, Scoresby Sund.

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Digital surface analysis of the United States

Web mapping is the process of designing, implementing, generating and delivering maps on the World Wide Web. The use of the web as a dissemination medium for maps can be regarded as a major advancement in cartography and opens many new opportunities, such as realtime maps, cheaper dissemination, more frequent and cheaper updates of data and software, personalized map content, distributed data sources and sharing of geographic information. It also implicates many challenges due to technical restrictions (low display resolution and limited bandwidth, in particular with mobile computing devices, many of which are physically small, and use slow wireless Internet connections), copyright and security issues, reliability issues and technical complexity. While the first web maps were primarily static, due to technical restrictions, today's web maps can be fully interactive and integrate multiple media. This means that both web mapping and web cartography also have to deal with interactivity, usability and multimedia issues.

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Ruysch's 1507 map of the world

Johannes Ruysch was an explorer, cartographer, astronomer, manuscript illustrator and painter from the Low Countries who produced a famous map of the world: the second oldest known printed representation of the New World. This Ruysch map was published and widely distributed in 1507.

In old documents Ruysch was sometimes called a Fleming or German, but he was likely born in Utrecht in the current Netherlands. It is thought that he accompanied John Cabot on his expedition to North America in 1497 and 1498. Ruysch's 1507 map of the world was included in the 1507 and 1508 southern editions of Ptolemy's Geographia, an atlas published in Rome.

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