What Are Some Different Types of Maps of the United States?

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Types of maps of the United States include political, economic, thematic, physical and road maps. Climate and topographic maps, which show physical landscape features of the United States, are also available. All maps generally offer scales that show estimated distances, as well as a compass rose that shows the four cardinal directions.

Contour lines are used to indicate changes in landscape features on topographical maps. Color is used to denote landscape changes on climate maps.

Physical maps illustrate an area's physical landscape features, such as rivers, mountains and lakes. All water is displayed in blue. Typically, brown on a physical map indicates higher elevations and green represents low elevations. Elevation keys are offered to show the height of each elevation color. Topographic maps are used in relation to physical maps and feature contour lines to explain the shape and elevation of an area, with close lines showing steep land and spaced lines showing flat land.

Political maps detail the state and national boundaries, along with the locations of important cities, such as state capitals. Natural resources and economic activity are the focus of economic maps. Information provided on a road map may include airport and city locations, highways and points of interest. Thematic maps focus on a specific topic or theme.