Portal:Atlas

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The Atlas Portal

Political and physical world map from the end of 2005

An atlas is a collection of maps, traditionally bound into book form, but now found in multimedia formats. As well as geographic features and political boundaries, many often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics.

The first book that could be called an atlas was constructed from the calculations of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek geographer working in Alexandria circa A.D. 150. The first edition was published in Bologna in 1477 and was illustrated with a set of 27 maps, though scholars say that it is not known whether the printed maps were engraved versions of original maps made by Ptolemy, or whether they were constructed by medieval Greek scholars from Ptolemy's text.

Atlas of Greek mythology

The origin of the term atlas is a common source of misconception, perhaps because two different mythical figures named 'Atlas' are associated with mapmaking. King Atlas, a mythical King of Mauretania, was, according to legend, a wise philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who supposedly made the first celestial globe. However, the more widely known Atlas is a figure from Greek mythology.

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Falkland Islands topographic map
Credit: Eric Gaba
A topographic map of the Falkland Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located 480 km (300 mi) off the coast of Argentina. They consist of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, together with about 700 smaller islands. Stanley, on East Falkland, is the capital and largest city. The islands are a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Claimed by Argentina.

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Global view of visible satellite imagery and topography

A geographic information system (GIS) is a system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth. In the strictest sense, it is a computer system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically-referenced information. In a more generic sense, GIS is a tool that allows users to create interactive queries, analyze the spatial information, edit data, maps, and present the results of all these operations. Geographic information science is the science underlying the geographic concepts, applications and systems.

Geographic information system technology can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, asset management, Environmental Impact Assessment, Urban planning, cartography, criminology, history, sales, marketing, and logistics.

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Possible rendering of Anaximander's world map

Anaximander (c. 610 BC–c. 546 BC) was a pre-Socratic philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia. He joined the Milesian school and studied the teachings of its master Thales. He succeeded him and became the second master of that school where he counted Anaximenes and Pythagoras amongst his pupils.

Anaximander was one of the earliest Greek thinkers at the start of the Axial Age. He was an early proponent of science and tried to observe and explain different aspects of the universe, with a particular interest in its origins, claiming that nature is ruled by laws. In astronomy, he tried to describe the mechanics of celestial bodies in relation to the Earth. In physics, he postulated that the indefinite (or apeiron) was the source of all things. He created a map of the world that contributed greatly to the advancement of geography. He was also involved in the politics of Miletus as he was sent as a leader to one of its colonies.

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