Topographic Map – Definition, Structure, and Examples

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Whenever you search about something, let's say about the forest or any mountain on the search engines, you will also find some related maps there. These maps will show the location and will also explain the detailed features of that forest or mountain region. You'll be able to find accurate information such as the height of the mountains, various routes around there, the boundary of the forest and any particular species found there, etc. These maps fulfil all your requirements. These detailed maps of the geographic features are known as topographic maps. Here, in this article, we will be talking about these maps only. We will learn what is a topographic map or whole topographic map definition structure examples and other related concepts which will help you to understand this topic. Understanding this topic is very necessary because it helps in actual life for various purposes.

Topographic Map - Introduction

What is the meaning of topography? Basically, it is a study of all the geographical features that present on the surface of the Earth. These can be natural or artificial features of a particular place. Usually, these features are displayed through maps. When these features are given a graphical representation and explained through maps, they are simply called topographic maps.

Topographic Map Meaning

These are those maps that provide detailed, comprehensive, and accurate information of the graphical representation of any natural or artificial geographical feature that occurs on the surface of the Earth. 

Contour lines are used in topographic maps for providing detailed information. These are the lines that are made by connecting the same points of equal elevation. Not all contour lines are displayed in topographic maps but samples of them are used. These kinds of maps are generally created by the government agencies for the administration of the country.

Topographic Map Definition

  • As per Oxford reference, "Topographic Map is a map which indicates, to scale, the natural features of the Earth's surface, as well as human features, with features at the correct relationship to each other."

  • According to the dictionary, "Topographic Map is a map showing topographic features, usually using contour lines."

Uses of Topographic Map 

It can have several uses which are mentioned below:

  • These maps can be used for any kind of geographic planning or architecture purposes.

  • It can be used in matters of Earth Science and Geography.

  • It can be used in mining and other such purposes like the construction of ponds etc.

  • It can be used for recreational purposes as well. For example, hiking or mountaineering, etc.

  • It can be used to get any detailed description of any area or any geographical feature. For example, drainage, landforms, forests, communication or transportation routes, etc. 

  • It can be used to get detailed information on any man-made features as well.

  • It can be used in civil engineering as well.

  • It can be used by the government for planning or administrative purposes or can be used by the private Industrial players as well.

Structure

These maps have a very comprehensive and detailed structure of any feature that occurs on the surface of the Earth and this structure provides all the information about that particular feature with the help of contour lines and graphical representation. This structure can include the following aspects in the maps:


Categories

Features

Relief

Regions of mountains, valleys, slopes, depressions as defined by contours

Hydrography

Water bodies such as lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, rapids, falls

Vegetation

Forest, wooded areas

Transportation

Roads, trails, railways, bridges, 

airports/airfield, seaplane anchorages

Culture

Buildings, urban development, Power, 

the transmission line, pipelines, towers

Boundaries

International, provincial/territorial, 

administrative, recreational, geographical

Toponymy

Names of places, water feature names, 

landform names, boundary names

Topographic Map Example

These maps can be of any country or any specific region or any topographic feature. Maps based on specific themes are called thematic maps. Some examples of topo maps of different countries and others are given below:

Topographic Map - Germany

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Topographic Map - Russia

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Topographic Map - Spain

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Topographic Map - India

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Topographic Map - Highways ( India )( Thematic Map )

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Topographic Map - Forest ( Thematic map )

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Did You Know?

If you know how to use a compass and a topographic map of any place which is unknown to you, you can be a good explorer even without a GPS. 

Conclusion

Thus, we know that maps play an important role because they can represent such a large-scale thing into a very small scale of paper. They help us to organize information about any region or place of any feature. Topographic maps will enlighten you about different features and their elevation levels. Here, in this article, we have covered topo maps. We have learned about topography definition geography, topographic map definition structure examples and other related concepts in this article. This will help you to understand the importance of topo maps and will also help in studying Geography and Earth Science. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question1. Define Topographic Map. Why are They used and What do Contour Lines mean in these Maps?

Answer: Topography means a study of all the geographical features that present on the surface of the Earth and the representation of these features on the maps are called topographic maps. These are those maps that provide detailed, comprehensive, and accurate information of the graphical representation of any natural or artificial geographical feature and can be used for geographical planning or administration, in geography or civil engineering, for recreation purposes, etc. Contour lines are used in topographic maps for providing detailed information. These are the lines that are made by connecting the same points of equal elevation either above or below sea level.

Question2. What are the basic Features of Topographic Maps and their Uses?

Answer: These maps use contour lines to show points of equal heights through a graphical representation of various geographical features. These can be representations of any natural or artificial features of that place. These maps can be used for any kind of geographic planning or architecture purposes, in matters of Earth Science, Geography, or Civil Engineering. It can be used in mining and other such purposes like the construction of ponds and recreational purposes as well. For example, hiking or mountaineering, etc.


It can be used to get any detailed description of any area or any geographical feature such as drainage, landforms, forests, communication or transportation routes, etc. On the other hand, It can be used to get detailed information about any man-made features as well. It can be used by the government for planning or administrative purposes or can be used by other private Industrial players as well.

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