Cartography or mapmaking (in Greek chartis - map and graphein - write) is the study and also practice that making depictions of the earth on a flat surface. The technique of cartography combines science, aesthetics, and technical capacity to develop a balanced and readable representation that is capable of interacting information effectively and quickly.

You are watching: What does the root word carto mean

Cartography, but mechanized it becomes, stays both a science and also an art. The aesthetics of any kind of given map will always be a vital component crucial to the conveyance that information. A map must carry out accuracy and in the best of solutions, an inventive presentation of data or evaluation of data, but always in a form that is readily comprehensible and inviting to the reader. A map is both more, and less, than simply geographical or physics space. And it is always a an outcome of artistic and technical judgments, producing something both beneficial and, occasionally, beautiful.

One trouble in developing maps is the basic reality the the surface ar of the Earth, a curved surface ar in three-dimensional space, must be stood for in 2 dimensions together a flat surface. This necessarily involves some level of distortion, which have the right to be faced by utilizing projections that minimize distortion in details areas. Furthermore, the earth is no a continual sphere, however its form is instead known as a geoid, i beg your pardon is a extremely irregular however exactly knowable and also calculable shape.

Maps of all scales have actually traditionally to be drawn and made by hand, yet the usage of computer systems has revolutionized cartography. Most commercial-quality maps are now made with software program that falls into one of three main types: CAD, GIS, and devoted illustration software.

Functioning as tools, maps connect spatial details by making the visible. Spatial info is gained from measure up of room and have the right to be save on computer in a database, native which it have the right to be extracted because that a selection of purposes. Current trends in this ar are relocating away from analog approaches of mapmaking and also toward the production of increasingly dynamic, interaction maps that can be manipulated digitally.

Cartographic representation involves the use of symbols and lines to illustrate geographic phenomena. This can aid in visualizing an are in an abstract and portable format. The cartographic procedure rests ~ above the premise that the human being is measurable and also that we deserve to make trustworthy representations or models of that reality.


The hatchet "Cartography" was coined in 1859, indigenous the French, carta definition card and -graphie, native the Greek, an interpretation to write, or come draw.<1> A slightly various version find the hatchet deriving native Old French carte, or map, with its roots in Latin charta, or carta, an interpretation paper make from papyrus. Graphie is the French for graphia, indigenous the Greek because that writing. <2>



Maps have been a big part that the person story because that a lengthy time (perhaps 8,000 years - nobody to know exactly, however longer than composed words). They were known to have existed in societies of Europe, the center East, China, India, and also others.

The earliest recognized map to day is a wall surface painting that the ancient Turkish city the Çatal Hüyük which has actually been date to the so late seventh millennium B.C.E. <3> Other known maps the the old world encompass the Minoan “House of the Admiral” wall painting indigenous c. 1600 B.C.E. Showing a seaside neighborhood in an tilt perspective, and an engraved map that the holy Babylonian city the Nippur, indigenous the Kassite duration (fourteenth – twelfth century B.C.E.). <4> The ancient Greeks and also Romans developed maps start with Anaximander in the sixth century B.C.E. In ancient China, back geographical literature spans back to the fifth century B.C.E., the drawing of true geographical maps was not started in earnest until the first half the the Han empire (202 B.C.E.-202 C.E.), through the functions of Prince Liu one (179 B.C.E.-122 B.C.E.).

Mappa mundi is the basic term supplied to explain Medieval europe maps the the world. Approximately 1,100 mappae mundi are well-known to have survived native the center Ages. Of these, part 900 are found showing manuscripts and the remainder exist as stand-alone records <5>.

In the age of exploration from the fifteenth century to the ten century, cartographers replicated earlier maps (some that which had been passed down for centuries) and drew their own based upon explorers" observations and new surveying techniques. The innovation of the magnetic compass, telescope, and sextant increased accuracy.

Due to the thin physical challenges inherent in cartography, map-makers commonly lifted material from previously works without offering credit come the initial cartographer. Because that example, among the many famous beforehand maps of north America is unofficially recognized as the Beaver Map, published in 1715 by Herman Moll. This map is specific reproduction of a 1698 work-related by Nicolas de Fer. De Fer consequently had duplicated images the were very first printed in publications by luigi Hennepin, released in 1697, and François Du Creux, in 1664. By the 1700s, map-makers began to provide credit to the initial engraver by print the expression "After " top top the work. <6>

Not all maps were drawn on paper. Well researched examples include the navigational stick charts the the Marshall Islanders, interwoven sticks i ordered it to depict distances throughout seas, wave fronts, and elevations the islands. Aboriginal Alaskans carved intricate sculptures the recreated coastlines and elevations in a portable, and quite accurate, three dimensional form. <7>

Technological changes

In cartography, brand-new technology has actually been incorporated into the manufacturing of the maps of new generations that mapmakers and map users. The an initial maps were manually created with brushes and parchment, were differed in quality and of limited distribution. The introduction of magnetic devices, choose the compass and, lot later, magnetic warehouse devices, resulted in the development of far an ext accurate maps and the ability to store and manipulate those maps digitally.

Advances in mechanical tools such as the to press press, quadrant, and also vernier calipers enabled for the mass manufacturing of maps and the ability to make accurate reproductions from more accurate data. Optical technology, such as the telescope, sextant, and also other devices that use telescopes, enabled for precise surveying that land and also gave the mapmakers and also navigators the capability to uncover their latitude by measuring angle to the phibìc Star in ~ night or the sunlight at noon.

Advances in optical chemicals technology, such together the lithographic and photochemical processes, have allowed for the production of maps that are finely detailed, do not distort in shape, and also resist moisture and wear. These advances eliminated the require for engraving, additional shortening the moment it takes come make and reproduce maps.

In the so late twentieth century and early twenty-first century, breakthroughs in electronic modern technology led come another transformation in cartography. Specifically, computer system hardware gadgets such as computer system screens, plotters, printers, scanners (remote and also document), and analytic stereo plotters together with visualization, image processing, spatial evaluation and database software, have actually democratized and also greatly increased the making of maps. The ability to superimpose spatially located variables onto existing maps created brand-new uses for maps and brand-new industries to explore and also exploit this potentials.

Map types

The ar of cartography can be divided into two large categories: basic cartography and thematic cartography. Basic cartography requires those maps that are constructed for a general audience and thus save a variety of features, like topographic maps. Topographic maps depict natural and also built functions of a place, v relief and elevation displayed by drawn contours or shading techniques. These relatively general maps exhibit many reference and location systems and often are created in a series. Because that example, United says Geological survey (USGS) has produced a full series of 1:24,000 range topographic maps; Canada has actually the same, in ~ 1:50,000 scale. The government of the UK produce 1:63,360 (1 customs to 1 mile) "Ordnance Survey" maps of the whole UK and a range of correlated larger- and smaller-scale maps of good detail.

See more: How To Convince Your Mom To Get A Dog ), But Mom Says It'S A Big No

Thematic cartography involves maps of specific geographic themes oriented toward particular audiences. Examples can be a dot map showing corn manufacturing in Indiana or a shaded area map that Ohio counties separated into numerical choropleth classes. Together the volume of geographical data has actually exploded over the critical century, thematic cartography has become increasingly useful and necessary to interpret spatial cultural and society data. Epidemiological data are represented on dedicated maps, a particularly useful means to show exposure patterns, or occurrence. Most used cartography could be well be described as object mapping. Clues of view deserve to be stood for thematically as well, and also the user that a provided map have to be educated of the objectives of the cartographer in stimulate to referee the worth of the presentation.