Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
nized through maps. Second, consider maps you use to help you get around
the place where you live. You may know the way to go when you travel to
work or school partly from descriptions prepared with the help of geogra-
phers and maps made by cartographers. Starting with these two examples, if
you pause to think about the many different uses and roles of geography and
cartography in the last 500 years (an arbitrary period), starting with the Euro-
pean period of exploration and colonization, we can conclude that geogra-
phers and cartographers have helped people to understand, navigate, con-
trol, and govern most of our world for millennia. Your world and the whole
world would be much different without geography and cartography. We rely
on these representations and the principles and conventions behind them to
make sense out of the world in many different ways—sometimes geographic
information and maps may be the only way to know something, other times
they are important complements to other things we know or can ask. Princi-
ples are standard procedures that people in a field follow—for example, when
a cartographer chooses a projection to make a map. Conventions are uses or
procedures agreed upon by experts, but usually they have become common
knowledge—for example, that north is the direction oriented at the top of a
map. Sometimes we are sure about how things are geographically organized,
but sometimes we may be less certain. We probably know where the city we
live in lies in relationship to the coastline, but we may be less sure about
Three thematic maps from the 19th century that demonstrate different geographic
representations and cartographic representations.
From . Reprinted by permission of David Rumsey.
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