What is Cartography? Tools Used in Cartography  | Cartography Vs GIS

What is Cartography? Tools Used in Cartography

Cartography Definition

Cartography, sometimes known as mapmaking, is the study and practice of creating maps.It is the process of turning spatial data into a map.

This can involve collecting information about an area in different ways, which is then translated into a map using various symbols, colors, and text.

Making maps requires the use of both scientific and creative aspects, combining graphic abilities and specialized knowledge of compilation and design principles with existing product generating tools.

Maps serve as spatial data visualization tools. Spatial data is maintained in a database and can be retrieved for a variety of reasons.

Traditional analog map-making technologies have given way to digital systems capable of creating dynamic interactive maps that can be altered digitally

The purpose of cartography is to make geographical or otherwise spatial data more understandable for people.

Cartographers design maps in various styles to suit the needs of their customers, including navigational information for sailors, hikers, and pilots who are looking to get from one place to another.

Cartographers use a wide variety of different tools and techniques to create maps. They can survey areas in person or take aerial photographs as a base for their map.

The cartographer then combines this information with other data like demographic and climate statistics to produce a geographically accurate map that presents the information in the most useful way possible.

History of Cartography

The history of cartography can be divided into pre-historic, ancient, medieval, and modern.

Pre-historic Cartography

Cartography is a map that’s been scanned and uploaded to any device or computer where the program was installed.

Types of pre-historic maps include cave paintings (mostly found in Europe), petroglyphs (mostly found in North America), and the earliest known example: The Bedolina Map (found in Italy) which is about 6500 years old.

Ancient cartography

Ancient maps began as a representation of the territory of a particular group or state. They were drawn as a pictorial representation, in order to aid the ruler in military or political matters.

Every map has been thought to be created by a geometric process (e.g., mechanical instruments, projection), which suggests that technical drawing played an important role in the production of ancient maps.

 Medieval Cartography

In the Middle Ages, maps became more abstract. They were no longer tied to specific territories and became more of a representation of religious and political allegiances.

This was a function of new trade routes and an increase in the number of travelers.

Thus, maps began to focus on functionality, rather than details that had previously been included. This time period did not see a giant leap forward in accuracy either.

Modern Cartography

Human geography or “the study of world phenomena by deduction from the scientific study of man, his environment and his behavior,” is one of the oldest branches of science.

The term “Cartography” was first used in the 17th century to describe maps created in a wide variety of projections: cylindrical, conic, and planimetric; it was first coined by French geographer Jean-Baptiste Bourgignon d’Anville (1

Types of Cartography

  • General Reference.

General reference maps or atlases are usually published every few years and provide ‘general’ information on a geographic region. Also known as scientific or scientific atlases.

  • Topographic Maps.

Topographic maps are generally drawn to provide a more detailed picture of an area. They may contain details of features such as mountains, roads, etc.

  •  Navigation Charts.

Navigation charts are used by seafarers to navigate from port to port and are designed to be easy to interpret at a glance.

According to the British Admiralty (the governing body responsible for cartography in the UK), “a chart is a graphic representation of the surface of the sea on a given scale, and is intended as a safe aid to navigation at sea”.

Navigational charts are issued by governments, but some smaller ports and marinas produce their own charts.

  • Road maps

Road maps provide a general overview of the whole country, or continent i.e., these are mainly used to find locations by address. Usually, there is an area with large-scale maps and the rest is a detailed map of smaller scale.

  • Geological maps

Geological maps show the locations of major outcrops, such as rock formations and ore deposits.

  • Geophysical maps

Geophysical maps show the locations of earthquakes, volcanoes and other movements in the earth’s crust.

  • Cadastral maps

Cadastral maps show the legal boundaries, field names, and types of land, such as plots and parcels.

  • Hydrographic maps

Hydrographic maps show rivers and their sources; depths, widths, and timing of currents are also indicated.

  • Community Maps

Community Maps  show where local facilities (e.g., schools, shops) are located in relation to each other in a town or city we live in is referred to as an ‘urban geography.’

  • Ordnance Survey maps

Ordnance Survey maps show detailed information on the contours, geography, topography, and locations of man-made features such as roads, buildings, and supply lines.

How to use Cartography

Simply place an existing map and an empty map in a cartography table to replicate one map into another. If the base map is a locator map, the freshly duplicated map will likewise be a locator map.

If you clone a locked map, the newly copied map will likewise be locked. Cartography tables are also utilized as Jobsite blocks by cartographers.

Cartography allows users to work with styles and symbols to represent items on a piece of paper.

The most crucial aspect of the employment of symbols is the supply of an adequate interpretive key at the map’s margin for the map user to know what each symbol represents on the map.

Maps and other cartographic elements are often appealing to man; many people prefer to use maps to locate goods and significant places on the earth’s surface, while others simply like looking at them for the beauty of it.

Recently, there has been significant growth in the number of users and use of maps all over the world.

Cartography has made it much simpler to maintain maps and update them much more quickly, especially when it comes to digital maps.

Cartography allows for a genuine depiction of a place on a tiny scale, allowing users to portray a specific location on a very little piece of paper.

Map creation has been an ongoing activity from the beginning of time. A map is a valuable tool that helps man to interact with and comprehend his surroundings.

Maps have been and continue to be generated for use in decision-making in a variety of sectors, the most important of which are socioeconomic, security defense, and environmental management.

Cartography also informs, inspires, and stimulates creativity and imagination. Maps include information on world history, religion, nature, and climate. Maps may also be used for teaching and are utilized in schools and colleges all around the world.

Importance of Cartography

The importance of Cartography can be summarized as follows:

  • – to help us keep track of our surroundings and the places we have been;
  • – to help us navigate our way in unknown territory;
  • – to help us understand the land we live on and its characteristics;
  • – to show the way from place A to B with ease.

Cartography Tools

  1. Digital cameras – help us capture sight and turn it into a data file.
  2.  Satellite Images – helps us to see a point in the world, on which further analysis can be done.
  3. Camera Lucida – an optical device that can project the spot that you are looking at onto paper, so that you do not have to hold it at the same angle as the map (perfect for making a relief map).
  4. Choropleth Maps – use color to represent different data values, like population density.
  5. Desktop publishing software – combine text, symbols, and images to create maps.
  6. Vector graphic software – allows you to add symbols, lines, and text to your map.
  7. Graphic design software – helps you create the overall look and feel of your map (e.g., color scheme, fonts).
  8. Scanners – convert your paper maps into digital files.
  9. Paper and pencils – a must-have in the cartographer’s toolkit.

Cartography Examples

A good example of cartography is the one done by two students of the College of Creative Arts, Tertiary Education Department in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria.

The student’s John Okwudili and Olufunmilayo Adedakin wondered how to represent the wide terrains of Jos.

They made a replica of the city on a large scale and illustrated it with marker pens and photos.

This was not a case of mere illustration but was an analytical tool to indicate the size of the city and its placement vis-a-vis surrounding areas.

This is a good example of how a simple pen and paper map can help people to know their location in relation to other locations is done by Mr. Augustine Okpeke, one of the most senior geologists in Nigeria.

In 2010, Peter Betham made maps for the Lost Map Project. This project helped students to learn about the history of slavery in Canada and consists of a series of maps that tell stories about families who were torn apart by slavery. These maps are made using traditional materials .

In 2016, a map was made to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Canada. The map tells the history of the country and its people, beginning with key historical landmarks such as Quebec City–Ville-Marie in 1608 and ending with the present day.

There are numerous cartography websites that offer free maps and spread them across the globe. These maps portray different aspects of life which include traffic conditions, weather conditions, pollution levels, population density etc.

Similarities and Differences Between Cartography and Geographic Information systems 

Cartography is the study of map-making and especially how maps should be made.

GIS is a collection of tools that help in collecting, storing, manipulating, and analyzing various kinds of data, cartography pertains to the production of maps also.

The knowledge and skills employed in making maps are similar between cartography and GIS.

The difference between GIS and cartography is that while both deal with geographic information they do so in different ways.

With GIS, an organization may collect multiple data sources that are related to it, and use software to record, store and manipulate this data for future use.

On the other hand, cartography prescribes a different process of collecting information. In this process, an individual or organization will collect data through geographical reference and cartographic tools from a particular location situated in the area where the location lies.

The collection of information can be made through various means such as interviews with people or the collection of surveys.

In summary, the similarities and differences are as follows:

– Both deal with geographic data

– Both involve the operations of map making

– Both involve the study and application of cartography, map making, and Geographic Information Science.

– They involve many skills common to both professions (e.g., accuracy, visual perception, imagination, creativity).

There are also many differences between cartography and GIS. Below is a summary of these differences.

– While GIS is more applied than cartography both are applied sciences that deal with geographical information.

– Cartography is more concerned with printed maps while GIS has wider applications in the sphere of digital data.

– Cartography deals with geography on a small scale whereas GIS is concerned with the larger world.

– Cartographers may use practical drawings, writing, or maps for their work whereas GIS is mainly used to record and store information such as photographs, satellite images, etc.

– A cartographer may use satellite images as a source for information when developing maps and reports, while GIS are dependent on them.

Traditional versus Modern cartography

Traditional cartography refers to the methods used in map-making before the 19th century. Maps were not accurate and many of them contained errors.

Relief was distorted and borders were often poorly defined.

Maps were often drawn by hand, based on the geography of the area being mapped and, on the information, provided by explorers who traveled to that area.

Modern cartography was made possible by advances in technology such as aerial photography, advanced mathematics, and computers that helped to draw improved maps which involved precise measurements and accuracy.

Also, new data collection techniques were discovered which used satellite images to capture information.

These maps were more accurate and were used in business to provide detailed information which was useful for businesses such as mining and forestry companies.

The modern cartographer uses geographic information systems (GIS) to capture and store geographical data.

The process of map-making has become much easier with the use of GIS programs like ArcView, AutoCAD, Google Earth, and OpenStreetMap.

As with traditional cartography, many of the tools used in modern cartography are similar to those used in GIS. However, modern maps also involve aesthetic elements such as coloring and shading.

 Cartography FAQs

 What is the purpose of cartography?

Cartography is the art and science of making maps. Cartographers use a variety of tools and techniques to create maps that help people understand and use information about the world.

The purpose of cartography is to create maps that are easy to understand and allow people to read them. In other words, the aim of cartography is to provide people with an easy way to explore their environment.

Additionally, the purpose of cartography is to communicate information about the world to people in a way that is useful and accurate.

How is cartography important today?

Cartography is important today because it is useful for various aspects of our lives including but not limited to the following:

– Transportation. Maps help people get from one place to another. They also assist people in finding their way through unknown places.

– Business and Economy. Maps help us to determine how and where goods are manufactured, delivered, and sold.

– Weather conditions. Maps help us to predict the weather. They provide us with information on temperature, wind and rainfall.

– Language and Literature. Some maps help to promote languages and literature (e.g., the Rand McNally International Atlas).

– Entertainment. Games such as board games are often played on maps (e.g., Risk).

– Tourism. Maps help us plan our travels to various places around the world.

What are the principles of cartography?

According to the Principles of Cartography by David Archer, the principles of cartography include the following:

  1. Thematic Accuracy: To ensure that the map is appropriate for its purpose and that it includes up-to-date information.
  2. Logical Simplicity: To ensure that the map is simple to understand and use.
  3. Visual Appeal: To ensure that a map looks visually pleasing and professional, which will encourage its use by others.
  4. Principles of Good Design: To ensure that a map is pleasing to the eye and that it is accurate and legible.
  5. Educational Objectives: To ensure that maps are used effectively as part of teaching programs.

What are branches of cartography?

There are four branches of cartography which are:

General Cartography

– Cartographic labeling

– Terrain cartography

– Critical cartography

How does a cartographer make a map?

A cartographer makes a map by matching what is on the ground to the way it will look on a map.

Like a word translator, the cartographer maps one word to another. For example, a lake will become a blue spot on the map.

How can cartography contribute to human societies?

Cartography can contribute to human societies in various ways including but not limited to:

– Providing people with information that may be important to their lives. For example, they may need information on where they live and how they can get places, how to take care of the environment etc.

– Contribute to the social and political development of nations. For example, maps may indicate areas that are dangerous and thus would need extra protection from political leaders.

– Cartography can provide means for improving communications. For example, maps are used in newspapers, books and maps to help communicate information.

What are cartographic materials?

Cartographic materials include but are not limited to the following:

– Manuscript Maps: The earliest maps were made in the form of drawings on paper.

– Printed Maps: Maps that are printed on paper or cloth.

– Charts: Maps that are produced using a particular projection and conform to specific conventions relating to scale, accuracy and physical size. Charts are often found as sea charts aboard ships. They can also be found in aircraft, roadbooks and atlases.

– Digital Maps: Maps that have been created using digital techniques and are stored in a digital format.

– GIS: Computer-generated maps that can be manipulated and viewed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

How does technology affect cartography?

Technology has affected cartography in various ways including but not limited to:

– Cartographers can now use computers for GIS.

– The use of satellites has helped cartographers to make more accurate maps than the traditional methods of map-making.

– Cartographers can now create interactive maps on the internet. The Interactive Mapping website is a good example of this.

– Technology has made it easier for people to collect geographical data from all over the world, which helps cartographers to create more accurate maps.

Why digital cartography is important?

Digital cartography is important because it helps to:

– Speed up work: Digitizing data can be accomplished much more quickly than hand drawing a map.

– Save time and money: Digitizing maps reduces the need for printing paper.

– Reproduce copies more easily – e.g., it is possible to make multiple copies of a digitized map, which would be difficult with a drawn map.

– Provide multiple ways of viewing the same data and manipulating data using computer software.

How has cartography changed over the years?

Cartography has changed over the years in various ways. Key changes include; 

– With the introduction of digital technologies, cartography has evolved to take advantage of new opportunities and to solve problems more efficiently.

– Cartographers today can create maps using computers and GIS.

– The field is becoming more diverse not only in terms of gender but also in terms of cultural and social backgrounds.

This helps cartographers to produce maps that are accurate and easy to understand, which is important when they are used for communication purposes.

What skills does a cartographer need?

The skills that a cartographer needs include but are not limited to:

– The ability to create and use maps for communication purposes. This will enable you to create and read maps using different mapping conventions and symbols.

– Reading skills: This is important because it will help you to read maps, books, magazines, etc., at an advanced level.

– Finding sources of information that can be used in your work. This will help you to find the information that you need more easily and quickly.

What are the modern problems of cartography?

Cartography has various problems including:

– No standard glossary of terms and symbols in common use.

– The need for cartographers to use computers to create and represent cartographic data and communicate their findings.

– The need for cartographers to design maps that are attractive, clear, and easy to read and interpret.

– The need for the cartographer to be familiar with the different mapping conventions used around the world. This will enable them to fulfill their communication objectives effectively.

Which are features of modern cartography?

Cartography has various features including but not limited to:

– Multiple scales can be used in maps. This is often useful when cartographers want to display two different types of information, for example, a large-scale map viewed from a bird’s eye view and a more detailed map that is viewed from ground level.

– Maps can show combinations of different kinds of information in different shapes and colors. This will help the viewer to differentiate between different kinds of data such as street names and land ownership on a map.

– When maps are played on a computer, they use the virtual world’s-built environment and routes of travel to determine the player’s position. This is important for players who want to create their own maps.

– The map can illustrate a real object such as a building or geographical feature that is not currently present in the game world. Cartographers can use this to make maps that exist in the game that shows what an item looks like before it is added to the world.

What are the benefits of cartography?

Cartography has various benefits including:

– Through the creation of maps, cartographers are able to describe and represent their understanding of the world. This will enable others to share their knowledge in a very effective way.

– Cartographers are able to communicate information clearly and effectively through maps, which will help them fulfill their purpose in society.

– Cartographers can make use of many different kinds of data that have been collected by different organizations around the world. This will help them to produce maps that are accurate and easy to interpret.

– Over time, cartographers will be able to collect more and more data which will help them refine their knowledge of the world and its environment.

– Cartography can be used in a variety of creative ways, which will help people to communicate information in different ways.

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