Maps & Globes


Below is a glossary of terms having to do with maps and globes and the study of the earth. Remember that these words can have other meanings that have nothing to do with maps and globes; this list contains meanings having to do with maps and globes.

aerial A map that uses photographs taken in a plane to show what an area looks like
altitude How high a place is above sea level.
base The lowest point of altitude and bottom part of a mountain, hill, etc.
bay A part of an ocean or lake extending into the land.
bedrock The layer of rock below the subsoil that is used to create soil.
canal A waterway dug across land through which ships can pass.
canyon A deep narrow valley with high, steep sides.
cape A point of land extending into a body of water.
cartographer A map maker
census A count of the population of an area
chain A set of mountains grouped together such as a range of mountains
city A place with more residents or inhabitants than a town; a large place governed by a charter granted by a state
cliff A very steep slope of rock or soil.
climate The weather in a place over a long period of time.
community A group of people living in an area such as a town, etc.
compass A tool used to find direction.
conservation The protection and preservation of natural resources, wildlife from destructive elements
continent The largest body of land
coordinates A set of numbers used to help locate a place
degree A division or measure of the earth in terms of latitude and/or longitude
core The center layer of the earth, very heavy, made of iron
crust The thin, outermost layer of the earth
delta The mud and sand that builds up at the mouth of a river
desert A large, dry tract of land with very little plant or animal life
earthquake A huge shaking of the earth due to the movement of huge rocks
elevation How high a location is above sea level
equator The line at 0 degrees latitude
erosion The process of the earth's surface being worn away by the forces of wind, water, glaciers
forest A thick growth of trees in an area
geography The study of the earth's surface
geyser A spring that throws forth bursts of hot water and steam
glacier A huge thick layer of ice.
globe A round model of the earth.
grid A series of crossed lines that meet to form a boxed pattern to help the user locate places on a map.
gulf A part of an ocean extending into the land.
harbor A sheltered area of water where ships anchor.
hemisphere half of a sphere; half of the earth
hill Smaller than a mountain, a raised part of the earth.
historical map A map that shows how a region or area looked in the past
international Between nations
intersection A place where two streets cross.
island Land completely surrounded by water.
lake A body of water completely surrounded by land.
landmark An important building or monument
latitude The measurement of distance north or south of the equator.
legend An explanatory list of symbols on a map
location A place where something can be found.
longitude The measurement of distance east of west of the Prime Meridian.
mantle The middle layer of the earth
map scale The relationship between the actual size of a place and its size as shown on a map.
mineral A naturally occurring substance mined from the ground
mountain A high, raised part of the earth's surface with a pointed top.
mountain range A row of connected mountains.
mouth The place where a stream or river enters a larger body of water
North Pole The northernmost point on the earth
oasis A green area in the middle of a dry area such as a desert
ore A mineral containing metal
parallel Another word for latitude lines.
peak the pointed top of a mountain.
peninsula A body of land surrounded by water on three sides.
physical map Shows how high or low places are on a map, also shows elevation in an area
plain A broad and flat area that usually has low elevation.
plateau A high area with a flat top that may have deep canyons.
plate tectonics gradual movements in the earth's crust of the giant pieces or plates of the earth's crust
political map A map having to do with an area's government; shows countries, states, cities, capitals, counties, etc.
population The number of people living in a certain area.
precipitation The amount of rain, snow, sleet that falls in a place.
prime meridian The line of latitude at 0 degrees longitude.
product map A map that shows what is grown or manufactured in an area
range A series or number of mountains that are close together
region A large, continuous area that has similar features or environment
resource Something such as minerals, water, etc. that occur in nature and are valuable to man
river A large stream of water that flows along a certain path.
route An established course of travel, such as a highway, etc.
rural Having to do with the country
scale A series of spaces marked by regular lines to measure distance
soil The loose surface area of the earth where plants grow
sound A narrow body of water separating an island from the mainland.
source The point where a stream or river begins
South Pole The point furthest south on the earth
subsoil The layer of soil beneath the topsoil made of pebbles.
swamp Low, wet land on which grass and trees grow.
symbol Something on a map that stands for something else.
temperature Measure of how hot or cold it is in an area.
timberline The upper limit of tree growth in an area
time zone An area using the same standard of time.
topsoil The top eight inches of soil
tributary A stream feeding a larger stream or lake
tsunami A huge sea wave caused by an underwater earthquake
tundra A treeless plain in the Arctic regions
urban Having to do with a city
valley Low land between hills and mountains.
vegetation The plant life of an area
volcano An opening in the earth's crust through which steam and lava are forced out.
weather (map) How hot or cold, wet or dry, stormy or calm it is in an area over a short period of time. A weather map shows these conditions in a particular area


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