Maps are :
- a graphic depiction of an area, showing the relative position of different things.
- a two dimensional representation.
- usually much smaller than what they represent.
- has errors (distortion) if a sphere is being mapped (projected) to a flat surface.
Most maps have :
- Direction indicators - oftentimes the compass rose.
- Scale - the relationship (ratio) between length measured on the map and in real life.
- Coordinate system for finding location, oftentimes latitude (° N or S) and longitude (° E or W).
- Key or legend for symbols and colors used on the map.
Most maps have specialized uses and features :
- topographic map - shows contour lines (elevation).
- mariners map - shows water depths.
- pilots map - shows airports and max height of landforms.
- Profile map - shows vertical changes over a distance.
More on Scale
Scale is shown as a ratio. 1 unit:25,000 units. One length unit on the map is equal to 25,000 of those same units in real life.
Maps usually have a graphic scale. A line on the map marked off in graduated distances.