Definition of Map: Function, Composing Elements and Types

Understanding Maps – Maps can be presented in a variety of different ways, ranging from conventional printed maps to digital maps that appear on a computer screen. The term map comes from the Greek word mappa which means table cloth or cloth. But in general, the meaning of a map is a sheet of all or part of the earth’s surface on a flat plane that is reduced using a certain scale. Check out a more detailed explanation of the following map:

A. Definition of Map

However, in general the meaning of a map is a sheet of all or part of the earth’s surface on a flat plane that is reduced using a certain scale. A map is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space. The science of making maps is called cartography. Many maps have a scale, which determines how large objects on the map actually are. A collection of several maps is called an atlas.

The following are some definitions of maps according to experts, including:

  • According to Erwin Raisz, a map is a conventional depiction of the earth’s surface, which is scaled down with various appearances and added writings as identification.
  • According to the ICA (International Cartographic Association) Map is a picture or representation of selected abstract appearance elements from the earth’s surface that have something to do with the earth’s surface or celestial bodies, which are generally depicted on a flat plane and scaled or scaled.
  • According to Aryono Prihandito (1998) Map is a picture of the earth’s surface with a certain scale, drawn on a flat plane through a certain projection system.
  • According to the National Coordinating Agency for Surveys and Mapping (Bakosurtanal 2005) Maps are a vehicle for storing and presenting data on environmental conditions, and are a source of information for planners and decision-makers at stages of development.

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B. Map Function

In general, a map is interpreted as a conventional depiction of the pattern of the earth which is depicted as if seen from above there is a flat plane through a projection field equipped with writing for identification. Map implies communication. This means that it is a signal or channel between the sender of the message (map maker) and the recipient of the message (map user). Thus maps are used to send messages in the form of information about the reality of geographical phenomena.

A map is basically a data that is designed to be able to produce geographic information through an organizing process of collaborating with other data related to the earth to analyze, predict and produce cartographic images. Spatial information about the earth is very complex, but in general geographic data contains 4 important aspects, namely (Zhou, 1998): Locations related to space, are spatial objects that are unique to the coordinate system (projection of a map) Attributes (features materials), information explaining the necessary spatial objects. Spatial relations, logical or quantitative relationships between space objects. Time is the time for data acquisition, attribute data and space.

Mapping is a process of presenting information on the surface of the Earth in the form of facts, the real world, both the shape of the earth’s surface and its natural resources, based on the map scale, map projection system, and the symbols of the presented elements of the Earth’s surface. In general, the map function is as follows:

  • Serves to indicate the position or location of a place on the surface of the earth.
  • Serves to show the size (area, distance) and direction of a place on the surface of the earth.
  • Serves to describe the forms on the surface of the earth, such as continents, countries, mountains, rivers and other forms.
  • Serves to help researchers before conducting a survey to determine the condition of the area to be studied.
  • Serves to present data about the potential of an area.
  • Serves as an analytical tool to get a conclusion.
  • Serves as a tool to explain proposed plans.
  • Serves as a tool to study the mutual relationship between geographical phenomena (symptoms) on the earth’s surface.
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C. Types of Maps

Compilation and placement of edge information is not an easy thing, because all the information located around the map must show balance. Of the various types of maps, in general, they are only divided into two major groups. The division of this map type is based on the content and scale of the map. The division is as follows.

1. Types of Maps based on their contents

a. General Map

Displays the entire surface of the earth in terms of physical nature and man-made. This map has an overview of the information in general. For example topographic maps, earth like maps, chorographic maps, and others. A general map is a type of map that describes the appearance of the earth, either natural or cultural phenomena. General maps are divided into three, namely topographic maps, chorographic maps, and world or geographic maps.

A topographic map is a type of map that depicts the earth’s surface complete with relief. The depiction of the relief of the earth’s surface on the map is drawn in the form of a contour line. A contour line is a line on a map that connects points of the same elevation.

A chorographic map is a type of map that depicts all or part of the earth’s surface which is general in nature and is usually of medium scale. An example of a choographic map is an atlas. A world map or geography is a general type of map that is very small scale with a very wide area coverage.

b. Custom Maps (thematic maps)

Displays certain appearance information. The use of symbols corresponds to the theme of the map title. Examples of land use maps, population density maps, distribution maps of tourist objects, and others.

2. Types of Maps Based on the Scale

a. Cadastral map

Cadastral map is a type of map that has a scale between 1: 100 to 1: 5,000. Usually, this map is used to describe land area and land certificates.

b. Large scale map

This type of map is a map that has a scale between 1: 5,000 to 1: 250,000. This map is used to describe narrow areas, for example village maps, village maps, district maps, and city maps.

c. Medium scale map

Medium scale maps have a scale between 1:250,001 to 1:500,000. The area covered on this map includes provinces, islands, and so on.

d. Small scale map

This type of map has a scale between 1:500,001 to 1:1,000,000. The area drawn is quite large, for example one country.

c. Geographic scale map

This last type of map has a scale smaller than 1:1,000,000. Due to its small scale, the area included in the map is even wider. Maps that have this small scale are usually continent maps and world maps.

3. Map based on shape or symmetry

a. Flat maps or two-dimensional maps, or regular maps, or planimetric maps

A map that is flat and made on a flat surface like cloth. This map is depicted using different colors or symbols and others.

b. Embossed maps or three-dimensional maps or stereometric maps

The map that is made is almost the same and even the actual situation on earth. Making maps arise by using 3-dimensional shadows so that the shapes of the earth’s surface look like the original.

c. Digital map

Is a map of the results of digital data processing stored in a computer. These maps can be stored on a diskette or CD-ROM. Example: satellite imagery, aerial photography.

d. Line map

A map that presents natural data and man-made features in the form of points, lines and areas.

e. Photo map

Map generated from an aerial photo mosaic equipped with contour lines, names and legends.


D. Elements on the Map

Map is a tool in conveying spatial information. Based on this function, a map should be equipped with various components or completeness elements that aim to make it easier for users to read or use the map. Some components of map completeness that are generally found on maps, for example, are:

1. Title

Reflects both the content and the type of the map. Title writing is usually at the top center, top right, or bottom. However, as much as possible put it on the top right. Legend Legend is a description of the symbols that are key to understanding the map.

2. Orientation or Direction Signs

In general, north is indicated by an arrow pointing up on the map. It is located in the appropriate place where if there are latitude and longitude, the coordinates can be used as directions.

3. Scale

Scale is the ratio of the distance on the map to the actual distance on the ground. The scale is written under the map title, outside the outline, or below the legend. The scale is divided into 3, namely:

  • Number scale. For example 1: 2,500,000. This means that every 1 cm of distance on the map is equal to 25 km of actual distance units.
  • Line scale. This scale is made in the form of horizontal lines that have a certain length and each segment is 1 cm or more to represent a certain distance desired by the map maker.
  • Verbal scale, which is a scale written in words.
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4. Symbols

Map symbol is a sign or picture that represents the appearance of the earth’s surface which is contained on the appearance map, the types of map symbols include:

  • Point symbol, used to represent place or positional data Line symbol, used to represent data related to distance
  • Area symbol, used to represent a certain area with a symbol that covers a certain area
  • The flow symbol is used to express flow or motion.
  • The bar symbol is used to state a price/compared to other prices/values.
  • Circle symbol, used to express the quantity (amount) in the form of a percentage.
  • The ball symbol is used to represent volume, the larger the ball symbol indicates the greater the volume and conversely the smaller the ball symbol means the smaller the volume.


5. Color Map

Map colors are used to distinguish features or objects on the earth’s surface, to give the quality or quantity of symbols on a map, and for map aesthetic purposes. The symbol color on the map consists of 8 colors, namely:

  • The green color indicates an area that has a height of less than 200 m. Usually the shape of the earth’s surface found at an altitude of <200 m is dominated by lowlands. The lowlands in Java are found along the north and south coasts.
  • The red color indicates an active railway/mountain. Red color is often found on maps of a province.
  • The light green color indicates an area that has an altitude between 200–400 m above sea level. The shape of the earth’s surface in this area is in the form of a sloping area accompanied by wavy and hilly forms of the earth’s surface. The distribution of this form of face is almost complete over the lowlands.
  • The yellow color indicates an area that has an altitude between 500-1000 m above sea level. The shape of the earth’s surface in this area is dominated by plateaus and hills and low mountains. The distribution of this landform is on the central edge of Central Java Province and is most extensive in the southeast of Sukoharjo Regency.
  • Light brown color indicates areas that have an altitude between 1000-1500 m above sea level. The dominant form of the earth’s surface in this area is medium mountains accompanied by low mountains. The distribution of this front shape is in the central part of Central Java, such as around Bumiayu, Banjarnegara, Temanggung, Wonosobo, Salatiga and Tawangmangu.
  • The brown color indicates areas that have an altitude of more than 1500 m above sea level. The shape of the earth’s surface in this area is dominated by relatively high mountains. The spread of these mountains is mostly in the central part of Central Java.
  • Whitish blue color The blue color shows the color of the appearance of the waters. The blue-white color indicates water areas with a depth of less than 200 m. The shape of the seabed in this area is dominated by relatively gentle slopes. The zone in this region is called the neritic zone. The spread of this zone is around the coast.
  • The light blue color indicates areas of seawater that have depths between 200-2000 m.
  • Dark blue color The dark blue color indicates sea waters with a depth of more than 2000 m.

6. Type of Letters (Lettering)

Lettering serves to reinforce the meaning of existing symbols. Types of use of lettering:

  • Hipsographic objects are written in upright letters, for example: Surakarta
  • Hydrographic objects are written in italics, for example: the Java Sea

7. Astronomical Lines

Astronomical lines consist of latitudes and longitudes which are used to indicate the location of a place or region which are formed in opposite directions to one another so as to form a vector indicating the astronomical location.

8. Insets

An inset is a small map that is inserted on the main map. Types of insets include: Location pointer inset, serves to show the location of areas that are not yet recognized Explanatory inset, serves to enlarge areas that are considered important Connecting inset, serves to connect areas that are cut off on the main map

9. Outline Map

Map outlines are lines to delimit map space and to place astronomical lines, in an orderly and correct manner, on the map.

10. Source and Year of Manufacture

The map source is the reference from which the map data was obtained.

11. Latitude and Longitude

Latitude is a line that crosses from west to east or from east to west. Longitude is a line that extends from north-south or south-north.


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Source: from various sources