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If you want to learn about geography, you need to know how to read a map? This module should get you started in understanding maps.

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Map Study

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Map : A graphic depiction of all or part of a geographic area where the real-world features have been replaced with symbols in their correct spatial location at a reduced scale is a Map.

The map of the world shows the seven Continents and the five oceans.

A Continent is one of the seven main land areas on the Earth. The seven Continents are Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and South America. Each Continent except Australia and Antarctica are made up of several countries. In some parts of the world students are taught that there are only six Continents, as they combine North America and South America into one Continent called Americas. Other experts use only six Continents by combining Europe and Asia into a Continent called Eurasia.

 Brief information about our North America and South America :
  North America South America
Area in square kilometers: 24,256,000 sq km 17,819,000 sq km
Number of Countries: 23 12
Population: 501,500,000 379,500,000

The World Map also shows that oceans cover most part of the world. An ocean is a large body of salt water. The five major oceans are the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean.

Maps are flat where as the Earth is round. A globe is a smaller model of the Earth. However, a map is easier to carry. That is the reason why we use maps to illustrate a particular area or a region, and it is easy you know.

Basic Map Skills

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Maps are an irreplaceable part of family history research, especially if you live far from the location in which you are searching. To be truly helpful for family history, any map must show the geographical and political boundaries as they existed when the ancestor you are researching lived there. Boundaries in the United States have changed constantly since the colonization of the east coast. Vermont, for example, was once part of New York. The map is a framework that brings other knowledge together and makes the world understandable.

You can search the map center in a variety of ways. Search for maps in a specific location by entering the country, state, and city or county into the appropriate fields. Use a drop down box to search by map. To search for a specific map subject, enter a keyword (i.e., American Revolution). Limit your search by adding a year range in the appropriate fields. Map shows general regions of a particular area as well as linguistic categories of many localities. The "what?" and the "where?" are necessary beginnings to understand the "who?" and the "why?"

Map Skills

When it comes to geography, we can identify maps using the following 5 best points;

Location :- Where are things located? A location can be specific for example, it can be stated as coordinates of longitude and latitude or as a distance from one place to another place or general (it's in the Northeast).

The Latitudes are imaginary lines running parallel to the Equator, and the Longitudes are imaginary lines running parallel to the Prime Meridian. We will learn in detail about the Latitudes and Longitudes, and the Equator and the Prime Meridian in the mini lessons section.

Place :- What makes a place different from other places? Differences might be defined in terms of climate, physical features, or the people who live there and their traditions.

Human-environment interaction :- What are the relationships among people and places? How have people changed the environment to better suit their needs?

Movement :- What are the patterns of movement of people, products, and information? A study of movement includes learning about major modes of transportation used by people, an area's major exports and imports, and ways in which people communicate or move ideas.

Regions :- How can Earth be divided into regions for study? Regions can be defined by a number of characteristics including area, language, political divisions, religions, and vegetation for example, grassland, marshland, desert, rain forest.

Most of the mappings do involve the business, the trade, the geography and political boundaries such as the neighboring countries, the rivers, the mountains, and the landmarks nearer to a particular selected area. Wherever you are supposed to figure out the important landmarks of your interested place you can easily find out its sources with the help of a geographical map. If you know how to locate a map of a region, you can easily get all the geographical and natural resources information, of that particular region.

California - Caleef and Vornya: The "official" theory is that Hernan Cortes named California, after an imaginary island in a popular Spanish novel of the time. We have heard through the years that the name of California came from the two Spanish words that mean 'hot furnace': 'Caliente Fornace'  Is this true?

A myth about our 'California' state: The name California was derived from 'Caliente and Fornace.' About 25 years ago, a historian noted that it has reference to the Amazon women who inhabited the island. He pointed that the name was originally derived from the natives of the West Indies who used two words that sounded like 'Caleef and vornya', which meant 'to give off oneself before reaping from the land.' The myth was that those who try acquiring from the land before showing their talents would be baked to death by the sun. It is interesting not only how the Spanish words for hot furnace figure into this but that many who came looking for gold died in the hot sun as they were trying to leave. Furthermore, California and Florida have the highest percentage of skin cancer in the world that is attributed directly to the sun.

United States Map

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A map is a picture of a place. Different maps show different information. No one map can show you everything. The study of maps is important for many reasons, as maps can help you find different places or certain locations. The map will then tell you many things and give you information about certain locations. They show you places you can visit, like parks, shopping centers, and museums. However, how would you know how to get to the place you want to go?  Maps show you in which direction or directions to go to reach the place you wish to visit. Suppose you are visiting Los Angeles, you would use the map to show you which way you should go to get there.

United States Map

Counties often started out large and then were divided, sometimes or several times, as populations grew. Your ancestors may have lived on the same farm for two hundred years, but their records could be in five counties because of shifting borders. Maps from specific times will help you find those boundaries. Points of latitude and longitude are imaginary lines created by mapmakers to allow them to pinpoint any place on the globe or map.

Parts of a Map

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Maps help you to locate a particular place on the Earth and tell you where they are from the place you live. All Maps have the same parts. Each part helps you to read the Map and understand it. These parts are:


Map Study

Map Title :  The Map Title tells you what the map is and is usually found on the top or bottom of the map.

Map Scale : Map scale is the relationship or ratio between a linear measurement on a map and the corresponding distance on Earth's surface.

Compass rose : An object that appears on maps to identify four main directions:  North, South, East and West. For example, the scale 1:100 means that one unit (inch or centimeter) on the map and represents 100 similar units on Earth's surface. The term small scale sometimes refers to the study of small areas.

Most maps have a distance scale somewhere on it. You can use the distance scale to measure the distance between places.

Directions :
A map symbol that shows directions. You must have seen the drawing showing East, West, North, and South directions on a map. This drawing is called as the compass rose and it helps you to know the directions. These four directions North, South, East, and West are called as the 'Cardinal Directions'.

Map Key : The map key is found on the bottom of the map. The map key tells you what the symbols on the map stand for. Symbols are small pictures on the map used for representing real things on our Earth like mountains, hills, and valleys etc,. Remember, symbols don't always look like what they represent in the real world.

These are the parts of a map and what a map tells us. Maps are very important and help many people get from place to place!


Books on Map Skills

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Links to other sites on Map Skills

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Abalone Maps http://www.nativecc.com/CaliforniaMap.html
United States Maps http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/united_states.html
Landform Atlas of the US http://fermi.jhuapl.edu/states/states.html
The 50 US States http://www.infoplease.com/states.html
Animated Atlas http://www.animatedatlas.com/movie.html
California - Science Map http://www.usgs.gov/state/state.asp?State=CA
Map Skills http://www.history.ctaponline.org/center/hsscm/grade2/unit2/
Maps and Map Skills http://www.kidinfo.com/Geography/Maps.html
Social Studies Skills http://www.internet4classrooms.com/3rdSocSt.htm
USA Label Me Print Outs http://www.enchantedlearning.com/label/usa.shtml
Maps and Aerial Photographs of US http://terraserver-usa.com/
USA Maps http://www.mrnussbaum.com/usamapsindex.htm
World Atlas http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/world.htm
The 13 Colonies http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/graphics/13mapnew.htm
National Atlas of the United States http://nationalatlas.gov/natlas/Natlasstart.asp
Guide to Latitude and Longitude http://www.mermaidmary.com/lat_long.html
Latitude and Longitude of US and Canadian Cities http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001796.html
Look Up Latitude and Longitude http://www.bcca.org/misc/qiblih/latlong.html
Determining Your Latitude and Longitude http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~cvm/latlon_find_location.html
Ozone Mapping http://jwocky.gsfc.nasa.gov/teacher/ozone_overhead_archive.html
US State Shape Identification Game http://www.mrnussbaum.com/statescroll.htm
Map Reading http://www.enchantedlearning.com/geography/mapreading/

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