Maps give us a minute depiction of a much larger space and are one of the most important tools for researchers, cartographers, tourists, students and others can use to examine the entire earth or a specific part of it. Understanding and analyzing maps require us to understand it's components.
Some basic map components are:
  • Scale.
  • Direction.
  • Grid system.
  • Projection.
  • Legend.
A scale is a ratio between the actual distance on the map to the actual distance on the ground.
\(1/100000\) (or) \(1:100000\) This means that one unit on the map represents \(100,000\) of the same unit on the ground. The units can be anything such as, \(mm, cm, m, km\) etc.,
Maps are drawn normally with north orientation. North direction in a map is always towards the North Pole of the earth. It is represented by an arrowhead. Other directions such as South, East and West are positioned from the North direction. These four main directions are called Cardinal directions.
Grid System:
A grid is a set of lines for defining a location on a map. There are vertical and horizontal lines drawn in a map, and their intersection points are referred to as Coordinates. Latitude and Longitude are the units that represent the coordinates at a geographic coordinate system. The location of a place can be simply defined by its latitude and longitude. Latitude is stated first and then comes the longitude. The latitude and longitude of a place can be expressed in units of degree, minutes and seconds.
Taj Mahal is located at
  • Coordinates: \(27° 10' 30.0504'' \)N, \(78° 2' 31.7472'' \)E.
  • Latitude longitude representation: \(27.175014\), \(78.042152\).
A map projection is a way of showing the spherical shaped earth on a flat piece of paper. Projections are drawn to maintain the shape, area and directions.
A map projection is defined as the transformation of a spherical network of latitudes and longitudes on a plane surface.
The legend of a map helps to understand the map details which are placed at the left or right corner at the bottom of the map.