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The European powers from around the 15th to 17th century, the time when exploring the globe and making colonies out of civilizations still wearing g-strings was the fashionable thing to do, maps were considered to be a well-kept secret by governments’ military and traders. Those possessing the more accurately charted maps of the seas got more influence and, of course, more territories to explore and claim.
Generally, a map give a representation of a given terrain or land. It could be represented in any kind of medium like in a flat paper, by a sphere or a diorama. In making a map, the general considerations are always the information to be derived from a map, the process on how the map will be made and the media to be used.
The information to be found on a map may vary accordingly. Some maps may show the world as a whole, a particular country or a city with basic information on road and highways and waterways and may even include famous landmarks. Some maps may have themes like showing a city with its sewerage system or may show icons indicating a local town’s famous product like, for example, in a thematic map showing America, the State of Idaho would be shown with an icon of a potato indicating that potatoes are produced there. So generally, mapmakers would consider if a map would be a simple or standard one or it would be like a thematic map intended for a particular audience. More or less, a legend is usually included to say what those lines and icons represent including the scaling used.
The process to be used in making a map pertains to the processes cartographic companies use in mass producing maps. Since commercial maps are usually printed on paper, commercial maps needs to be sturdy and strong so that folding the map and moisture won’t easily subject the map to wear and tear. Advances in lithographic and photochemical processes have made possible current commercial maps to be of stronger constitution and at the same time gives them higher profit margins as it also allowed them to churn up maps in shorter amount of time.
With the onset of mobile phones and the Internet, maps now are downloadable and appear in electronic form. The electronic form usually is more detailed than the paper version. Because the electronic form is paperless and can allow showing more details, it can show buildings, restaurants and even alley ways, things that would never be seen in a Mercator Projection or any traditional map.
Cartography or mapmaking is one of those industries that are both art and science. Almost everyone uses a map from students to tourists to generals and admirals. The landscape is always changing and so need for update in maps is a constant endeavor. Although, it may look like pictures to those who look at it, mapmaking is as a complicated and an exact science to those who make it, as knowledge in surveying methods is a necessary skill that needs to be learned by aspiring cartographers.