Interesting tidbit:
a Google search
for "map scale"
returns 87,000 sites

Mathematics of Cartography
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Mathematics Topics-Scale


  Map scale
Definition- The relationship between distances on a map and the corresponding distances on the earth's surface expressed as a fraction or a ratio.

One unit of measurement on the map -- 1 inch or 1 centimeter -- could represent 10,000 of the same units on the ground. This would be a 1:10,000 scaled map.

Large scale/Small scale
Cartographers talk about large and small scale maps. A large scale map shows a small area with a large amount of detail. A small scale map shows a large area with a small amount of detail. A good way to remember it: when you give a friend a map to your school or home, that's most likely a large scale map.

Think of a 1:1 map. Now that would show some details! 1:2 scales out and shows less, 1:10 less. So 1:100,000 shows less detail than 1:24,000.

The larger denominator (the second number) the smaller the scale. Large scale maps are 1:24,000 and larger. Intermediate scale maps occur in the 1:50,000 to 1:100,000 scale range. Small scale maps are 1:250,000 and smaller.

To Do
At Mapblast, you can make streetmaps of US metropolitan areas (Europe soon). Go there, make a map of your neighborhood (you can even email it to someone), see the scale and try to determine distances based upon the scale. How far is it from your home to school, for example. These maps also allow you to zoom in or out, thus changing the scale.
Table of Contents
Maps Main Page
What are Maps?
Map History
Math Topics
Math Problems
Web Resources
Careers
Teachers' Notes
References
Other Math Lessons

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Copyright 1996-2003 Cynthia Lanius