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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Featured map

Kamianets-Podilskyi map
Credit: de:Nicolas de Fer
A 1691 French map of Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine, depicting the city's old town neighborhood and castle, surrounded by the winding Smotrych River. It was originally part of Kievan Rus' and annexed into the First Polish Republic, but at the time of the map's creation, the city was part of the Ottoman Empire. It shortly returned to Poland and later became part of the Russian Empire with the Second Partition of Poland in 1793.

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Topographic map of Europe

Topography is the study of Earth's surface features or those of planets, moons, and asteroids. In a broader sense, topography is concerned with local detail in general, including not only relief but also vegetative and human-made features, and even local history and culture. This meaning is less common in America, where topographic maps with elevation contours have made "topography" synonymous with relief. The older sense of Topography as the study of place still has currency in Europe.

For the purposes of this article, topography specifically involves the recording of relief or terrain, the three-dimensional quality of the surface, and the identification of specific landforms. This is also known as geomorphometry. In modern usage, this involves generation of elevation data in electronic form. It is often considered to include the graphic representation of the landform on a map by a variety of techniques, including contour lines, Hypsometric tints, and relief shading.

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Selected biography

Gunnlaugsson's 1844 map of Iceland

Björn Gunnlaugsson (September 25, 1788 – March 17, 1876) was an Icelandic mathematician and cartographer. The only studied mathematician in Iceland in the 19th century, Björn was isolated from the academic community in Europe, and the intellectual environment made him turn to the didactics and the applications of mathematics, and also to philosophy.

For the Literary Society of Iceland, he surveyed the country from 1831 to 1843. The results of his work were published in a topographic map of Iceland at a scale of 1:480,000 on four sheets. It was the first complete map of Iceland and was published under the direction of Olaf Nikolas Olsen in Copenhagen. For his survey work, Björn received the Order of the Dannebrog in 1846 and the French Légion d'honneur in 1859.

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