What Are the Different Types of Maps?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 10:52:53 AM ET
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Different types of maps include climate maps, resource or economic maps, physical maps, political maps, road maps and topographical maps. Most maps have a compass rose that shows direction (north, south, east and west). They also have a scale used for estimating distances.


A map is a picture of the Earth’s surface used primarily as a reference. Climate maps provide general information about the climate, including precipitation and temperatures. Cartographers or mapmakers indicate different climate regions using different colors. Economic or resource maps are used to show the distribution of different natural resources or economic activities in a region. Symbols are used to show the locations of economic resources or industries.

Physical maps represent the physical features of a location, including mountains, rivers and lakes. Different colors are used in illustrating different features. For instance, water is usually shown in blue. Difference in land elevations (relief) is indicated by different colors. Lower elevation is shown by green color, while orange or brown shows higher elevations.

Political maps indicate state or national boundaries, capital cities and major towns. Road maps illustrate highways (major and minor), roads, railroads, cities and other points of significance. Finally, topographical maps use contour lines that indicate the shape and elevation of an area.