A world map is a map of the surface of the Earth, which may be made using any of a number of different map projections. A map projection is any method of representing the surface of a sphere or other three-dimensional body on a plane.
World maps form a distinctive category of maps due to the problem of projection. Maps by necessity distort the presentation of the earth's surface. Distortions reach extremes in a world map. The many ways of projecting the earth reflect diverse technical and æsthetic goals for world maps.
World maps are also distinct for the global knowledge required to construct them. A meaningful map of the world could not be constructed before the European Renaissance because less than half of the earth's coastlines, let alone its interior regions, were known to any culture. New knowledge of the earth's surface has been accumulating ever since and continues to this day.
Maps of the world generally focus either on 'political' features or on 'physical' features. Political maps emphasize territorial boundaries and human settlement. Physical maps show geographic features such as mountains, soil type or land use. Geological maps show not only the surface, but characteristics of the underlying rock, fault lines, and subsurface structures.
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Famous quotes containing the words maps and/or world:
“And now good morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.”
—John Donne (15721631)
“Dark Angel, with thine aching lust
To rid the world of penitence:
Malicious Angel, who still dost
My soul such subtile violence!
Because of thee, no thought, no thing,
Abides for me undesecrate:
Dark Angel, ever on the wing,
Who never reachest me too late!”
—Lionel Pigot Johnson (18671902)