What Are Map Scales For?

The map scales used to determine the relationship between a distance on the map and the corresponding distance on the earth ‘s surface. When you want to represent a large object, the only viable way is reduction. It is impossible to represent it in its original size.

Cartography is the science and technique that makes geographic maps. It is based mainly on astronomy, geometry and geography. The oldest reference to a map is said to come from China in the 3rd century BC. C.

A map is a graphical representation to scale. The scales on maps are called cartographic scales.

Definition of scale

A scale is the proportion between the object that is represented (the Earth or a portion of it) and the representation of the same in the plane.

The cartographic scale is the mathematical relationship that exists between the real dimensions and those of the drawing that represents reality on a plane or map.

The scale is located at the bottom of the map. It appears built on the edge of almost all maps and plans.

It is the fundamental concept in graphic representations , whether they are letters, maps, plans, sketches or other graphics.

Uses of scale in maps

– They are used to proportionally reduce the real size of a given space.

– They serve to obtain the existing proportion relationship between the real dimensions of the territory and those of a map.

– It is an important element for reading and making maps, because it indicates the proportion between reality and representation and allows distances to be measured.

– The usefulness of the cartographic scale is based on the relationship between the elements of the map and their real size. The scale works as a connection between the map and reality

– Scale is the most important characteristic of the map, since the precision of the cartographic representation, the accuracy of the measurements on the ground and the spatial dimension of the area to be represented depends on it.

Types of scales

1- Numerical scale

The numerical scale uses a fraction to show the ratio between the distance between two sites identified on a map and their corresponding separation on the ground. The numerator indicates the value of the plane and the denominator the value of reality.

According to this type of scale, the maps are classified into:

Small scale maps

They are the employees for the general approach and strategic studies.

Medium scale maps

Employees for more detailed planning.

Large scale maps

They are used for urban, technical and administrative uses.

2- Graphic scale

It is the one that is done by means of a straight line or graduated ruler and allows to measure the distances on the map directly.

3- Textual scale

On this type of scale, one centimeter equals one kilometer. It consists of showing the unit of measure expressly. For example, say that a millimeter corresponds to 100 kilometers.

4- Chromatic scale

They are generally used in maps that represent, for example, the relief of a terrain. It is one in which different colors are used to identify the different heights and depths.


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