Advantages And Disadvantages Of Cartography


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What are the advantages and disadvantages of cartography? Do you have any knowledge what cartography is all about? Have you ever wondered about how cartography came about i.e the history of cartography? If no, then you have come to the end of your worries. This article will talk about all you need to know about cartography.

a map showing every projections and symbol representations

The art of cartography has a long and rich history that goes back to the Ancient Egyptians. It is through this comparison with cartography that it becomes possible to see the many advantages and disadvantages this field of work can offer.

This article will explore some of these, outlining what they are, how they might be avoided or minimized, and when there is no way around them.

This article details the advantages and disadvantages of cartography in order to allow you to better evaluate your situation should you find yourself interested in pursuing this field.

This list includes both common benefits of cartography as well as those which may present challenges for the profession.

What Is Cartography

Cartography can be defined as “The art, practice or science of making maps and charts”. It is important to know that each country has it’s own system for measuring and recording land because this will affect how you measure the land.

For example, there are two ways to measure things by length, one way is metric and the other is imperial. This article will discuss some of these in-depth.

The first method to measure length is using a Metric System. Based on the meter for length and kilogram for mass, the metric system was first adopted in France in 1795. After the French Revolution, the government asked scientists to look into replacing thousands of different traditional measurement systems with one that could unify the country.

The metric system, or SI (Système International), is based off this original meter and currently the official system of measurement for almost all countries, including the countries of the former British Empire, such as Australia. (Canada converted to the metric system in the ’70s and ’80s).

The SI units—fundamental units not based on any other units—are meter, kilogram, second, ampere (electricity), Kelvin (although Celsius is a more practical measurement for nonscientific applications), mole (chemistry), and candela (luminous intensity).

The second method to measure length is using the Imperial System. The British Imperial System was the official system of weights and measures in the United Kingdom from 1824 until they adopted the metric system in 1965.

The Imperial system standardized measurements for units like pound and foot that had different meanings in different places. The United States Customary System is based off British Imperial units that existed previous to the Weights and Measures Act of 1824.

Measuring length is a big and complicated problem because instead of being able to measure in linear distance such as 1 meter or 2 miles, you will have to use tenths of meters or hundreds of kilometers depending on your country.

It is also important to know how to convert Metric Units to Imperial Units. This includes:


1 milliliter = 0.034 US fluid ounces
1 liter = 1 US quart (liquid)


1 meter = 39.37 inches, about 3 feet
1 centimeter = 0.39 inches
1 millimeter = 0.039 inches (to approximate, divide by 25)


1 square meter = 1.2 square yards, or 10.76 square feet
1 square centimeter = 0.155 square inches


1 gram = 0.035 ounces (weight)
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds


To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply the temperature in degrees celsius by 9/5, then add 32 (freezing is 0°C and 32°F).

Some common metric conversions for baking are:

130°C = 250°F
150°C = 300°F
190°C = 375°F
200°C = 400°F
230°C = 450°F

a Bibliography of the history of cartography with drawings of some human figures

Cartography can also be defined as the creation and the study of maps and charts – maps apply to land while charts are mainly related to marine. Cartography has made it easier to study and understand most of the geographical phenomena since the beginning of history.

This article will not go into detail about how cartography started but more focus on how it came about.

Cartography did not start in the past, it began centuries ago, in ancient Egypt and Babylon, where many of the earliest maps were created. The ancient Greeks and Romans created maps from the time of Anaximander in the 6th century BCE. From there, maps were created using the compass and straightedge or a gnomonic projection.

The best knowledge for finding out about the development of cartography can be found in books and articles published by cartographers and map enthusiasts, who have devoted their lives to this task.

If a person is interested in learning more about the history of cartography they must read these accurate books which can teach them all they need to know.

The creation of maps and charts had it ups and downs over its history but has advanced greatly in the 20th century. Today you can be on a computer and create your own custom-made map or chart like Google Maps, Foursquare, Strava, Amazon, etc.

Having known this, let’s get into the next topic which is the advantages and disadvantages of cartography.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Cartography

We will be in looking at the advantages and disadvantages of cartography but firstly, we will begin with the advantages of cartography.

Advantages Of Cartography

Some of the advantages of cartography are as follows:

It Increases Awareness Of The Geography

People that are professional cartographers have come across many geographical places which they had not heard of before and this is because of the exposure from the job. This is an advantage in the sense that knowledge about the geography becomes increased. Maps and charts are of great importance in today’s world.

For example, the maps created by NASA have become more accurate and also more accessible. Now it is not a big deal to create your own map from a computer or phone by using Google Maps, Foursquare, Strava, Amazon etc.

It increases our awareness about the geography because you will be able to escape from your own little world after knowing about all these places.

It Helps You To Learn More About Other Countries

As we have stated earlier that maps and charts are a great source of information about geographical places, this can be exemplified when you travel to a new city, state or province for the first time.

The map is the first thing you turn to when you’re looking for the fastest route from point A to point B. When you move to a new location, the map shows you where all the local landmarks are like parks, beaches, schools, hospitals and where all your friends live.

Cartography has helped humans understand each other on a different level which is why it is crucial in this day and age.

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Easier Data Symbolization

A map that shows not only every single road or street but also every single house, store and business on that road can be quite overwhelming. Today with the advent of computers, it is easier to find the location of a specific address with ease on maps and charts.

An excellent example of this is Google Maps. This is because of the GPS feature that makes it easy to track down your location in an instant. This great GPS feature helps us to get more accurate data and also gives us useful information about points of interest.

So, maps with GPS helps make data easier to understand in the form of symbols.

Conversion Of Maps Projections Are Made Easier

Maps can be made using different projections. The Mercator map is a prime example of different projections. A map projection is a method of representing the surface of a sphere on to a plane (chart) by means of some kind of drawing.

This helps us to learn about the different projections, due to their conversion from one type of projection to another, easier. It is also important to note that maps are furnished with different descriptions, depending on the projection used.

For example, if you look at a Mercator map, you will know that it is in fact a cylindrical projection. This helps us to understand the different projections much better.

Having known this, let’s head towards the disadvantages of cartography

Disadvantages Of Cartography

Some of the disadvantages of cartography are as follows:

Symbols Are Used To Represent Objects In Maps

The symbols that are used in maps are known as map elements. The creators of a map decide on the type of map element to use, depending on the scale and purpose of the map. This can be depicted by the data being shown in an accurate manner.

For example, if you were making a detailed road map (1:25000) then you would use street symbols, but if you were creating a large area map where you want to show information down to 1km then you would use points or circles.

Sometimes it is hard for a person who does not know about these symbols to understand them completely because they don’t know what they stand for. These symbols are sometimes not clear.

It Is Prone To Human Error

Maps are created by using exact and correct measurements, but sometimes error is introduced. For example, during the creation of a country map or state map, there can be accidents with the measuring instruments leading to errors in the maps.

When this happens, it creates massive problems for the cartographer. This problem is called “mapping error”. It can occur when an instrument may have been used incorrectly resulting in errors being placed on a chart or map. Or a person could get tired of making maps and miss out one digit at a time leaving a significant gap in measurement specifications.

Such errors can lead to false information which might cause problems later on – either directly or indirectly.

Deficiencies In Geographic Data

Geographic data is the information about the location from where a map was created. When it comes to cartography, it is a very important part of making a map.

However, this information could be incomplete for various reasons. It might not be correct or correct in only one area of the country. It may also not be complete to include addresses and satellite images and so on.

Some countries might also have no geographic data available to them at all which creates a problem for cartographers in those countries because they do not know which features are present and which ones are absent (disappeared).

Difficulty In Creating Maps And Charts

Maps and charts are usually made with the use of cartographers in a certain way. However, this process can be quite complicated and hard work, which may not be liked by some people. It is common that when the cartographer plans to make a map or chart, they often come up with lots of ideas, but then fail to include everything they want.

Sometimes there might not be enough space on the paper or soft copy that is printed or used for making maps and charts. It can also be because of the fact that these types of maps need more information to create them better and this means more work is needed on the part of cartographers.


Cartography is very important in this day and age. Almost every student is aware of what a map is and how to use them.

There is no doubt that everything we know about the Earth today has been made possible by the use of maps and charts.

They have given us a great amount of information about our locality and surroundings which has, in turn, helped us to know more about the Earth in general and its features as a planet.

The advancement over time of new types of maps has led to different types of maps like web mapping, GPS maps and more.

 map of Europe showing every country and necessary details

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