Physical Map vs. Political Map: What's the Difference?

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Key Difference

The key difference between Physical Map and Political Map is that Physical Map indicates the natural features of a place like mountains, waterbodies plains, etc. and The political map shows territorial features like country, cities, nations and their boundaries.

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Physical Map vs. Political Map

The difference between political map and physical map stems from the purpose for which they are created. Before discussing that further, let us first see what a map is. Maps are representations of natural features and landforms on a piece of paper with greatly downscaled ratios. Maps are important as they could be used to locate a place in an unknown area and also used to get directions to reach a particular location. To meet the requirements, different types of maps are available out there. Two important types of maps are political map and physical map. A physical map is used to show geographic properties of an area such as mountains and rivers, while a political map is one that shows the cities, roads and borders of different countries. This is the key difference between political map and physical map, but there are other differences that we will discuss in this article.

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 Comparison Chart

BasisPhysical MapPolitical Map
DefinitionA map used to indicate the forms of landscape and water bodies of an area.A map that helps in representing the geographical boundaries, roads, and other similar features of an area.
UseIt is used to show geographical properties.It is used to show territorial borders.
FeaturesRaised or dippedFlat
Colors usedDull colors are used.Bright colors are used.

What is Physical Map?

Physical map or otherwise called as relief maps would be the one which shows the natural qualities of a form of land and bodies of water which are observed in a specific area. In finer terms, it’s a visual representation of how our earth looks from space. In this map, the water bodies such as oceans, rivers, ponds and lakes are portrayed in a blue colour. Likewise, brown colour indicates hills and plateaus, different shades of green are utilized to represent elevations on a physical map. These maps help to comprehend, the assortment of elevation in the area, mountains or plateaus from the area, rivers in that area, direction where the river flows and so on.

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What is Political Map?

Political Map is called a map used by the travellers, tourists or other people to find several areas, population, roads, highways, etc. of a specific area. The principal feature of political maps is that it reveals administrative subdivisions of earth, or other geographic areas such as continents, states, country, cities, villages and towns. Political MapThese maps utilize large water bodies such as oceans, sea, lakes and rivers as landmark. There are further three types of political maps, which are General Maps, Survey Maps and Specialised Maps.

Key Differences

  1. Physical maps represents geographical features such as mountains, deserts, water bodies, and forests in a place while political represents the borders, cities, states, roads and population.
  2. Political maps usually marks the major cities and major water bodies however they do not indicate every water body as physical maps do.
  3. Political maps are flat on the other hand physical maps are sometimes three dimensional.
  4. Physical maps indicate how a place looks like when viewed from height and thus contains only physical properties while a political map shows how the world has been separated into countries by borders.
  5. Political maps are important for charity organizations when doling out money or food during natural disasters as they can distribute things to the needs based upon demarcations of a political map.
  6. Normally, dull colors are used to show features in a physical map, whereas at a political map bright colors are used to differentiate between different cities, states and countries.

Comparison Video

Conclusion

Maps are designed from the cartographers, who use different colours to highlight unique features on a map. While the physical map shows landforms without considering the individual alterations, a political map is one which suggests humanmade characteristics of an area.

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