What is a Political Map

Know it All about Political Map

Political map, physical map, topographical map, and even a simple road map are all examples of maps. A political map is likely to be the first map that most children experience, aside from the treasure maps of pirate tales, but most will never hear the term associated with the item in front of them. Many people, in reality, go their whole lives without knowing the differences between the types of maps.

Therefore, in this article, you’ll know what a political map is, its features, advantages/disadvantages, history, etc. Other than that, you’ll also have an insight into when and how to use them.

Political Map

Part 1: What is a Political Map

Among the most commonly used reference maps are "political maps." They hang on the walls of classrooms all over the world showing the geographical boundaries that separate administrative units such as nations, states, and counties. They depict major water features such as oceans, rivers, and lakes, as well as highways and towns. In a nutshell, a political map displays the political characteristics of a given area.

Political maps come in a variety of sizes, as you would expect. Some are large enough to span whole continents, while others are smaller, such as a state or a county. You've probably seen a lot of political maps in your life. Knowing how to read these maps is essential to their use.

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Part 2: History of a Political Map

People used to draw maps to indicate where land borders were. Maps were also common among rulers, such as kings and queens, who wanted to know where their lands were. These maps may be used to show the king where taxes should be raised, where loyal subjects should live, and new areas of land that the king or queen would want to invade or settle loyal subjects on.

During the Famine, political maps were used. Relief works were established to allow people to work for money on public works projects such as road construction. While this provided some assistance to the citizens, the funds raised were insufficient to keep many families from going hungry. Accurate maps were needed at the time to determine which landlords were responsible for relief efforts in various parts of the country.

Part 3: Advantages and Disadvantages of a Political Map


  • A political map depicts the different geographic borders and demarcated areas of the world in the northern and southern zones, as well as the ethnic characteristics of countries from east to west.
  • Relevant data such as nations, states, and towns, as well as the layout of water bodies, are shown on this map, which is a major source of information for a country's government and is released and updated each year in the atlas, with different colors indicating different countries and regions.
  • It also defines the different aspects of highways, railways, and the network corridor that serves as a cultural network connecting various parts of the world.


  • Since the aim of these maps is to represent land owned or governed by government authorities, there is less emphasis on physical accuracy.
  • The map's projection can be distorted to make countries appear larger or more volatile than they are. Any projection errors are due to the process used rather than a deliberate political agenda.
  • The map focuses less on topographic features and instead solely on the state and national boundaries.
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Part 4: When to Use?

Political maps are generally used to depict the governmental borders of countries, states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as geographical features like rivers, streams, and lakes. An easy-to-use informative index is a function of a political map.

Other than that, political maps assist people in comprehending the world's geography. Students are normally exposed to them as the first form of a map in school. People refer to them as "reference charts" since they are often consulted when they have questions.

Part 5: Who Uses a Political Map?

A political map is a map that depicts the political borders of nations, states, counties, and major cities. A political map can help determine regional socio-political patterns that influence group activity and government outcomes.

Political maps are frequently printed on paper or other physical media, but they can also be created digitally and viewed online. Millions of people use search engines every day to look for political reference charts. "United States map," "World map," "Europe map," and "Florida map" are among the most common searches.

political map example

Thousands of various political reference maps have been created to depict the United States' current geography. There are maps of the whole country, maps of each of the 50 states, and maps of the 3142 counties that make up the states (parishes in Louisiana and boroughs in Alaska). The majority of counties, boroughs, and parishes are divided into even smaller political divisions. Just to show the geography of the United States, an unprecedented number of political maps have been developed.

Political maps of the world, nations, and continents are the most popular maps used in classrooms and offices. They are sometimes annotated with push pins, sticky notes, photos, marker flags, and string to indicate a family's journeys, a business's locations, or other noteworthy locations and events.

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Part 6: How to Read a Political Map

One must know how to read a political map to use it. The first thing you can learn about reading a political map is how to place yourself concerning the information on the page. Some aspects of maps will remain consistent regardless of whether you are looking at a map in your hand, in a book, or on a screen. Direction is one of them. North will always be at the top of the map, south will always be at the bottom, east will always be on your right, and west will always be on your left. Every political map is the same.

Now that you are oriented, you can start reading the map by following the steps that are below.

  1. Read the map's title to figure out what the map's topic and intent is.
  2. Examine the map's marks. They'll also reveal more about the map's theme and purpose.
  3. Look up the significance of the symbols on the maps in the legend.
  4. Estimate distances between points on the map using the scale.
  5. To evaluate the direction on the charts, use the compass rose.
  6. Read the map carefully to get answers to the questions you’re looking for.

Part 7: An Example of Political Map

Below is an example of a political map of the United States of America. The United States of America is a republic with a federal government. There are 50 states, one federal district (the capital, Washington, D.C.), five larger territories, and some island territories that make up the United States. North America is made up of the 48 contiguous Continental United States (also known as the Lower 48) and Alaska, while the Pacific and Caribbean are made up of Hawaii and smaller outlying areas.

Example of Political Map

The political map depicts the United States and its neighboring nations, the national capital, Washington, D.C., as well as US states, state borders, state capitals, and other major cities.

Part 8: Conclusion

A political map differs from other types of maps since it focuses on government or administrative borders rather than geographical or physical features. Rather than showing viewers what is actually on the ground, it depicts the abstract lines that divide nations, states, territories, and towns.

The above article covers everything you need to know about political maps, including their history, uses, advantages, as well as how to read them.

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