Location & Mapping 101
AP Human Geography
“The map is the starting point,
not an ending point, for
Barney Neitschmann, University of California at Berkeley
(Latitude & longitude)
The art and science of making maps, including data
compilation, layout, and design.
As human geographers, we use maps as a common
language to look at the arrangement of social & natural
We don’t just make maps – we use them to ask questions and
draw conclusions about spatial relationships.
A stone tablet found in a cave in
Abauntz in the Navarra region of
northern Spain is believed to
contain the earliest known
representation of a landscape.
Visual representation of the
earth’s surface or the
phenomenon (any observable
occurrence) that occur on
the earth’s surface.
Maps show spatial relationships.
The degree to which a map “zooms in” on the area it is
Scale tells you what extent the portion of the earth
represented on the map has been reduced from its
original size to fit on the map.
For example, 1 inch on a map may equal 10 miles in the
That scale might be written as 1 inch = 10 miles.
Sometimes, scale is indicated as a fraction.
“1/10 miles” or “1:10 miles” means 1 inch on the map equals
10 miles in the real world.
THIS IS THE TRICKY PART
Counterintuitive part of mapping:
“LARGE” OR “SMALL” scale.
The more “zoomed in” the map is on an area, the larger is its
large-scale map depicts a smaller area
The less “zoomed in” the map is on an area, the smaller is its
Small-scale map depicts a larger area
Other Parts of a Map
Legend: Explains what the symbols on a map seem.
Map symbols: Graphics that represent any number of
Dots, symbols, lines, and more…
Orientation: Refers to the compass direction of the top
of the map. Sometimes shown through a compass rose.
Transforming something spherical into something flat
means that the 2-D image will never exactly represent
what is visible in three-dimensions.
Geographers use numerous mathematical equations to
produce map projections.
All flat maps have some distortion in their representation
Types of Projections
Equal-area (or equivalent) projections: maps that
maintain area but distort other properties.
Conformal (or orthomorphic) projections: maps
that maintain shape but distort other properties
Azimuthal projections: maps that maintain direction
but distort other properties.
Equidistant projections: maps that maintain distance
but distort other properties.
Cylindrical map projection
Conformal projection – maintains shape
Useful for navigation because it maintains accurate
Famous for their distortion in area that makes landmasses
at the poles appear oversized
Cylindrical map projection
Attempts to retain all the accurate sizes of all the world’s
Sometimes used as a political statement- that we should
refocus our attention to the tropics, home to large
landmasses and many of the world’s poorest countries.
Maintains the accurate size and shape of landmasses
Completely rearranges direction such that the four
cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) no longer
have any meaning.
Attempts to balance several possible projection errors.
Does not maintain completely accurate area, shape,
distance, or direction, but it minimizes errors in each.
Used by National Geographic
Formed when a flat piece of paper is placed on top of the
globe and, as described earlier, a light source projects the
surrounding areas onto the map.
Usually, the North Pole or South Pole is oriented at the
center of the map which gives the viewer the impression
of looking up or down at the earth.
Reference Maps, or Baseline Maps
of places and
Tell a story about a
process, such as
(We use more of
these in this class.)
A dot may be used to
locate each occurrence of
Where appropriate, a dot
may indicate any number
of entities, for example,
one dot for every 100
Military families in Ohio
Shows statistical data aggregated over predefined regions
or areas, such as counties or states, by coloring or
shading these regions.
For example, countries with higher rates of infant
mortality might appear darker on a choropleth map.
A cartogram is a map in which some thematic mapping
variable is substituted for land area or distance.
The geometry or space of the map is distorted in order
to convey the information of this alternate variable.
Global Positioning System
Satellite-based system for determining the absolute
location of places or geographical features
A geographic information system (GIS) integrates
hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing,
analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically
GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and
visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships,
patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports,
Map drawn from memory.
Mental Mapping Assignment
AP Human Geography Unit 1: Nature and Perspectives
On a piece of paper, draw a mental map of your neighborhood & the
Denton/Denton County area. Include a home address in your map. Show as
much detail as you can, and remember to make the map accurate in terms of
what is important to you, such as the places you eat, work, walk, recreate, friends’
houses, landmarks, etc. Make sure you include the parts of a map we discussed
earlier in this lecture.
As you work on your map, consider the following questions:
1. What do you personally consider to be the most important features on your
map? Why? How do these features or places shape your “sense of place?”
2. Why are certain businesses or houses located where they are on your map?
3. How have people influenced the physical and/or cultural environment in a
particular area noted on your map?
4. How long have you lived in the area? How has this affected your mental map?
5. How do you get around? Do you drive, walk, or bike? How has this affected
your mental map?
Chloropleth vs Cartrogram warmup
Introduction to Maps PDF