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Types of Maps

Learn about the differences between climate maps, topographic maps, and others types of maps.
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There are several types of maps. Each show different information. Most maps include a compass rose, which indicates which way is north, south, east and west. They also include a scale so you can estimate distances. Here's a look at some different types of maps.

Climate maps
give general information about the climate and precipitation (rain and snow) of a region. Cartographers, or mapmakers, use colors to show different climate or precipitation zones.
Economic or resource maps
feature the type of natural resources or economic activity that dominates an area. Cartographers use symbols to show the locations of natural resources or economic activities. For example, oranges on a map of Florida tell you that oranges are grown there.
Physical maps
illustrate the physical features of an area, such as the mountains, rivers and lakes. The water is usually shown in blue. Colors are used to show relief--differences in land elevations. Green is typically used at lower elevations, and orange or brown indicate higher elevations.
Political maps
do not show physical features. Instead, they indicate state and national boundaries and capital and major cities. A capital city is usually marked with a star within a circle.
Road maps
show major--some minor highways--and roads, airports, railroad tracks, cities and other points of interest in an area. People use road maps to plan trips and for driving directions.
Topographic maps
include contour lines to show the shape and elevation of an area. Lines that are close together indicate steep terrain, and lines that are far apart indicate flat terrain.

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