MAP LANGUAGE : The collection of data about the spatial distribution of the significant features of the earth’s surface has long been an important part of the activities of organized societies. From the earliest civilizations to modern times, spatial data have been collected by navigators, geographers and surveyors, and rendered into pictorial form by map makers or cartographers.


Originally, maps were used to describe faroff places, as an aid for navigation and military strategies (Hodgkiss 1961). During the eighteenth century, many governments realised the advantages of systematic mapping of their lands, and commissioned national government institutions to prepare topographical maps.

These institutions are still continuing the mapping work. Many of the developing countries are making all attempts to obtain the status of a developed country. These attempts are based on certain strategies relating to areas like natural resources management and development, information technology, touris development, infrastructure development, rural development, environmental management, facility management, and e-governance. In order to make an effective study of these thrust and emerging fields, new and innovative technologies have been developed.

In the last two decades innovative technologies have been greatly applied to
experimental and operational activities. These technologies have their historical antecedents. For instance, Remote Sensing and GIS have been developed from earlier technologies such as surveying, photogrammetry, cartography, mathematics, and statistics.

Laurini and Thompson (1992) adopted the umbrella term “Geomatics” to cover all these disciplines. They stated that the different aspects of each of these areas are necessary for formulating and understanding spatial information systems. The traditional method of storing, analysing and presenting spatial data is the map. The map or spatial language, like any other language, functions as a filter for necessary information to pass through (Witthuhn et ai, 1974).

It modifies the way we think, observe, and make decisions. Maps are thus the starting point in any analysis and are used in the presentation of results of any operational project. Whether it is remote sensing, photogrammetry, cartography, or GIS, the ultimate output will be the production of high quality, more accurate and clearer map, so that the user finds it easy to make appropriate decisions.

Therefore, maps and their production using modern technologies is an essential starting point and they are the necessary tools to explore the characteristics of spatial phenomena. This Chapter is exclusively devoted to providing the fundamental concepts of a map, map scale, various terms used in mapping, review of map projections, and map symbolism.

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