Why Is Cartography Important?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 31, 2020 1:26:57 PM ET

Cartography is important because it allows humans to understand and analyze spatial relationships and make decisions based on those relationships. Maps affect natural resources distribution, transportation, disaster relief and urban planning. Cartography is the study and practice of making maps.


In the most basic sense, cartography allows humans to create abstracted repetitions of physical spaces, which can be used to better understand those spaces. Maps allow humans to orient themselves to a location and understand the most efficient way to travel between spaces. Maps also help to convey information about what is found in different spaces, whether it’s a store or a river.

On a larger scale, cartography helps humans utilize spatial knowledge to better organize different aspects of society. Far beyond cities, mountain ranges and rivers, maps can depict population, natural resources and transportation systems. Maps allow humans to make informed, efficient decisions about the distribution of resources, such as oil pipelines or power lines. Maps also help with urban planning decisions, such as new public transportation lines.

One example of the use of cartography is in the field of disaster relief. In the event of a natural disaster, such as a tsunami or an earthquake, relief agencies use maps to quickly assess the situation, determine relief routes and stay aware of changes on the ground. Government planners also use maps to determine designated escape routes for disaster scenarios.