What is physical map?

What Does physical map Mean

A physical map is a term composed of two words, we will try to arrive at a correct definition by breaking down the meaning of each one of them.

In the first place, map is a term that descends from the Latin concept of mappa , and refers to a drawing that represents a territorial region. The usual thing is that it is developed on a paper or another flat element, but there is also the globe, which is a kind of spherical map. Physical , on the other hand, is an adjective associated with the body , which is opposed to the abstract or symbolic. From the fusion of these two words we can understand that a physical map is a graphical representation on paper of the physical aspects of a place, terrain, landforms and other related aspects.

The notion of physical map refers to a particular type of map that exhibits the natural phenomena of the geology of a terrain and allows us to understand its composition.
On a physical map, we will find a representation of rivers , mountains and deserts , for example. In this way, physical maps are clearly differentiated from political maps , whose purpose is to portray the organization of a territory arranged by the human being through entities such as countries , provinces or cities .
It should be noted, however, that there are physical-political maps . As their name implies, these maps present both geological phenomena and political entities.
Physical maps are made to scale and respecting metric properties, which helps the user to calculate surfaces and distances with ease. Those who are in charge of developing the maps are cartographers , experts in the discipline called cartography .
These representations are carried out using different colors, according to the altitude of the terrain or depth, these colors are more or less dark. For example, the sea water that surrounds the coast is painted in a light blue, while the ocean in dark blue, to explain that in the first case the depth is less than in the second.
In these maps the names of the most important cities are also recorded, but without making clear their boundaries (for this it will be necessary to observe a political map ).
Elements of a map
It is necessary to clarify that any map is made up of a certain amount of elements, these are: Space and location (it represents a certain place with particular information), two-dimensionality (only two axes are recorded, width and length, depth is not registered. This element is changing with the arrival of the third dimension to societies), verticality (they represent reality from a vertical perspective, it is as if the terrain is always seen from above), abstraction and idealization (it is carried out an abstraction and the elements of the terrain are represented through symbols established in a conventional way), scale(They are not made in real size but a scale representation is made indicating how many times reality has been reduced when graphing; 1cm of the map can be equivalent to 1000 real km, for example), and references (indications that allow to know what each symbol represented means and dimensions necessary to understand the map).

Physical maps can have varying degrees of detail and coverage. That is, they can be from a reduced territory (municipality) or from a larger space (continent).
As technologies advance, map design becomes easier; At present, for example, most maps are made from aerial and satellite photographs, which allows for greater precision in their preparation.
To finish with this definition, it is important to note that, in another sense, the concept of physical map is also used in genetics . In this case, the physical maps represent the genes and genetic markers found on a chromosome . This representation is ordered and contemplates the relative physical distance.

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