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From maps of your neighborhood to maps of all the planets in the galaxy, the Internet has it. Today’s collection of online atlases specialize in country maps. Whether you are a tourist planning a vacation, a student writing a report, or a simply an armchair traveler, these are the sites you’ll want to consult.
“Welcome to 3D Atlas Online, your ultimate geographic resource! Here’s where you’ll find the most fascinating information on our planet, including timely world news, the best research links for every country, the coolest free downloads, and our own Geographic Glossary.” Designed as a companion Web site to Compton’s 3D Atlas CD-ROM, this site is useful whether you own the software or not. Best clicks are Countries of the World, Geographic Glossary and the geography Web links listed under 3D Atlas Topics.
Maps & Globes
“The location of any place or feature on the Earth’s surface can be shown on a map or globe. A map is usually drawn on a flat surface; a globe on a spherical surface; but both are drawings or pictures, at a greatly reduced size, of what is on all or part of the Earth. Maps and globes of the moon, the planets, or the sky as seen from the Earth may also be made.” This great introduction to the many benefits of maps is written for the elementary-age crowd by Compton’s Encyclopedia.
Two common types of maps are political and physical. Political maps show the boundaries of governmental entities such as countries, states and provinces. Physical maps display geological features like mountain ranges, rivers and lakes. “Maps.com Online World Atlas features political and physical maps, flags, and statistics for Andorra to Zimbabwe. Click on the Political World Map (cities) or the Physical World Map (physical features) to begin your journey.”
National Geographic Map Machine
Wow! Not just an online version of a printed atlas, National Geographic’s Map Machine lets you create and save your own customized maps. A few examples of your mapping choices include Degree of Ecosystem Threats, Annual Precipitation, Recent Earthquakes or Mineral Resources. Of course, political maps (as well as flags, statistics and all the country stuff you need for school reports) are also available. The quality, variety and depth of information (as well as the fun factor) make the Map Machine my pick of the day!
Round Earth, Flat Maps
“Those lines and colors, so clear and confident on the final product, reflect a host of difficult choices and compromises. Encounter the options available to our cartographers and the tools that help them face the challenge of portraying a round Earth on flat maps.” This behind-the-scenes look at the work of professional map makers (for high school students and adults) explains the concepts of projection (the geometry of making a round object flat) and map objectives.