Flow map

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Charles Joseph Minard’s map of French wine exports for 1864.

Flow maps in cartography are a mix of maps and flow charts, that "show the movement of objects from one location to another, such as the number of people in a migration, the amount of goods being traded, or the number of packets in a network".[1]


Minard's map of Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812.

Flow maps according to Harris (1999) "can be used to show movement of almost anything, including tangible things such as people, products, natural resources, weather, etc, as well as intangible things such as know-how, talent, credit of goodwill". Flow maps can indicate things like:[2]

  • What it is that flows, moves, migrates, etc.
  • What direction the flow is moving and/or what the source and destination are.
  • How much is flowing, being transferred, transported, etc.
  • General information about what is flowing and how it is flowing.

In contrast to route maps, flow maps show little aside from the paths from one point to another.[2]

Other types of flow maps[edit]

A non-cartographic flow map showing the relative percentages of cardiac output delivered to major organ systems

Beside the flow maps in cartography there are several other kind of flow maps:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Doantam Phan (2005). Flow Map Layout Stanford University InfoVis 2005
  2. ^ a b Robert L. Harris (1999). Information Graphics. p.157.

Further reading[edit]

  • Borden D. Dent (1999). Cartography : Thematic map design. McGraw-Hill. New York. 1999.
  • Alan MacEachren. (1995). How maps work: Representation, Visualization, and Design. Guilford Press. New York.
  • Robert L. Harris (1999). Information Graphics. Oxford University Press US

External links[edit]