What Is a Political Map?


Quick Answer

The purpose of a political map is to show the boundaries of states, countries and counties (depending on the scale), as well as major bodies of water and major cities. Frequently, political maps show different countries in contrasting colors to make reading easier. While some geographical features appear on political maps, including major mountain ranges, the purpose of this is to give geographical reference rather than to show any physical features.

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Full Answer

Looking at a political map of the world is a little bit misleading when it comes to the sizing and proportion of the various continent. Because the Earth is round, creating a flat map that shows its entire surface involves distorting the size of each landmass. Such outlines as the Mercator projection ended up making North America and Europe look proportionally larger than they actually appear on the globe, with Africa looking significantly smaller.

Some of the largest nations on the globe include the Russian Federation, Canada, the United States, the People's Republic of China, India and Brazil, while some of the smallest include Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, Luxemborg, Liechtenstein and Vatican City. Looking at a world map helps users understand the importance of coastlines as far as accessibility to world trade.

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