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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 most often found in multimedia formats. As well as geographic features and political boundaries, many often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics.

The first known 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.

An atlas is a collection of maps; it is typically a map of Earth or a region of Earth, but there are atlases of the other planets (and their satellites) in the Solar System. Furthermore, atlases of anatomy exist, mapping out the human body or other organisms.[1] Atlases have traditionally been bound into book form, but today many atlases are in multimedia formats. In addition to presenting geographic features and political boundaries, many atlases often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics. They also have information about the map and places in it

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A portion of the Internet
Credit: Matt Britt
A small partial map of the Internet. Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses. This graph contains over 40,000 nodes, which represents about 2% of the Class C network address space.

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Digital surface analysis of the United States

Web mapping is the process of designing, implementing, generating and delivering maps on the World Wide Web. The use of the web as a dissemination medium for maps can be regarded as a major advancement in cartography and opens many new opportunities, such as realtime maps, cheaper dissemination, more frequent and cheaper updates of data and software, personalized map content, distributed data sources and sharing of geographic information. It also implicates many challenges due to technical restrictions (low display resolution and limited bandwidth, in particular with mobile computing devices, many of which are physically small, and use slow wireless Internet connections), copyright and security issues, reliability issues and technical complexity. While the first web maps were primarily static, due to technical restrictions, today's web maps can be fully interactive and integrate multiple media. This means that both web mapping and web cartography also have to deal with interactivity, usability and multimedia issues.

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World map from Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Abraham Ortelius (April 2, 1527 – June 28, 1598) was a cartographer and geographer, generally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas. He was born in Antwerp in what is now Belgium, a member of the influential Ortelius family of Augsburg.

Beginning as a map-engraver, in 1547 he entered the Antwerp guild of St Luke as afsetter van Karten. His early career is that of a businessman, and most of his journeys before 1560 are for commercial purposes. In 1560, however, when travelling with Mercator to Trier, Lorraine and Poitiers, he seems to have been attracted, largely by Mercator’s influence, towards the career of a scientific geographer; in particular he now devoted himself, at his friend’s suggestion, to the compilation of that atlas, or Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), by which he became famous.

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