What is a Physical Map?
A physical map is specially designed to show the geographic features of an area. There is an area of the map, usually located in one of the corners, thatdefines all symbols used to represent the geographic features, as well as other important information. The scale of the map is also defined in the legend. All bodies or occurrences of water aremarked on the map in one color and the map shows whether they are streams, rivers, lakes or larger bodies of water. Mountains, deserts and plains all have their own unique color and designations.A topological map shows the terrain covered on the map as a 3-dimensional representation. Mountains are raised above the normal surface of the map and canyons dip below the normal surface. Valleysand canyons, latitude markings, longitude markings and regional denotations demonstrate the elevation and grade of the ascent or decent for that location. These maps are used to guide travelers tospecific locations and using this type of physical map also reveals information about the topography of the terrain. While the surface of a physical map denotes mountains, valleys and deserts,the maps also transmit this information in color as well. Most physical maps show the surface in the color of an aerial view of the location. Forests will appear green, mountains will be gray ormottled gray and white while deserts and ice fields will take on the color of their natural state. The only markings that give any indications of exactly where a particular location is on Earthare the markings indicating country borders. Some physical maps show cities and towns but very few will be indicated.
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