What Is a Physical Map?

The main objective of a physical map is to show landforms, bodies of water and other geographical features. Features shown include mountains, deserts and lowlands as well as lakes, rivers and oceans.

Physical maps show the natural details of the land and water included in the area. Makers of physical maps use colors and gradients of colors as well as different types of lines and symbols to depict elevation and different types of land. While a political map focuses on cities, capitals and political boundaries, the physical map depicts the geography of the area. Many maps, however, combine features of the two types to one degree or another.