History and Instruments

What makes a piece of paper a map

No matter what the medium, all maps must be a representation of an area of the Earth, celestial bodies, or space. Though maps are commonly printed on paper, they can come in a variety of forms, from being drawn in the sand to being viewed on computers. A map should have a legend (a guide explaining the map’s symbols), a notation of which way is north, and an indicator of scale. No map is perfect and every map is unique.


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