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{theory, work, human}
{math, energy, light}
{@card@, make, design}
{math, number, function}
{work, book, publish}
{system, computer, user}
{island, water, area}
{land, century, early}
{church, century, christian}
{god, call, give}
{film, series, show}
{mi², represent, 1st}
{line, north, south}
{borough, population, unit_pref}
{country, population, people}
{county, mile, population}
{area, part, region}
{car, race, vehicle}

Cartography (from Greek chartis = map and graphein = write) is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:[citation needed]

  • Set the map's agenda and select traits of the object to be mapped. This is the concern of map editing. Traits may be physical, such as roads or land masses, or may be abstract, such as toponyms or political boundaries.
  • Represent the terrain of the mapped object on flat media. This is the concern of map projections.
  • Eliminate characteristics of the mapped object that are not relevant to the map's purpose. This is the concern of generalization.
  • Reduce the complexity of the characteristics that will be mapped. This is also the concern of generalization.
  • Orchestrate the elements of the map to best convey its message to its audience. This is the concern of map design.

Modern cartography is closely integrated with geographic information science (GIScience) and constitutes many theoretical and practical foundations of geographic information systems.



The earliest known map is a matter of some debate, both because the definition of "map" is not sharp and because some artifacts speculated to be maps might actually be something else. A wall painting, which may depict the ancient Anatolian city of Çatalhöyük (previously known as Catal Huyuk or Çatal Hüyük), has been dated to the late 7th millennium BCE.[1][2] Other known maps of the ancient world include the Minoan “House of the Admiral” wall painting from c. 1600 BCE, showing a seaside community in an oblique perspective and an engraved map of the holy Babylonian city of Nippur, from the Kassite period (14th – 12th centuries BCE).[3] The oldest surviving world maps are the Babylonian world maps from the 9th century BCE.[4] One shows Babylon on the Euphrates, surrounded by a circular landmass showing Assyria, Urartu[5] and several cities, in turn surrounded by a "bitter river" (Oceanus), with seven islands arranged around it.[6] Another depicts Babylon as being further north from the center of the world.[4]

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