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If you're looking for a versatile choice of artwork for a room, choose an oversized world map. It's less expensive than traditional art, and you can place it in an attractive frame to elevate its style.
If you're looking for a versatile choice of artwork for a room, choose an oversized world map. It's less expensive than traditional art, and you can place it in an attractive frame to elevate its style.

Are you an educator, world traveler, or simply love cartography? Then it's time to broaden your horizons and add a world map to your wall.

Maps inspire conversations and journeys. You're able to view the countries of the world and, depending on the type of map, landscape representations, climate zones, or historical information. There are even 3-D and interactive maps. Parents and educators can foster geographical interests in kids with age-appropriate maps featuring bright colors and large text.

If you're ready to choose a world map, read our buying guide. We're including our favorite one, Rand McNally's Classic USA and World Wall Map Set, which comes with two classic full-size maps excellent for classroom and professional use.

Considerations when choosing world maps

Types of maps

Political: Political maps detail countries, borders, and cities. They don't contain any topographical information unless you get a hybrid political/physical map. As geopolitical changes occur, it's important to have current political maps, particularly if they're used for educational purposes.

Physical: Physical maps detail landforms and natural features like bodies of water and mountain ranges. Color and shading is important with these maps, as they indicate elevation and location. Some physical maps show country borders, where others only have the continents marked.

Economic/climate: Economic maps detail information like GDP and employment rates, while climate maps distinguish climate zones. To remain relevant, manufacturers of these maps conduct regular research and surveys.

Children's: Children's maps aim to be informational and accessible, which is why they feature bright colors and large print. Political and physical maps are most commonly used in classrooms, though some educators utilize hybrid maps.

Other popular map types

Historical maps: These maps function as geographical blasts from the past. They detail the political landscape of the world from another era or are reproductions of original maps used by explorers. They're especially popular for geography and history educators.

Artistic maps: These maps don't necessarily aim to educate; they use a world map as a muse or artistic direction. Artistic maps aren't always focused on scale or true representations. They're often painted as murals or large paintings.

Interactive maps: Interactive maps let you channel your inner explorer. Interactive features include scratch-off territories, decals, or magnetic pieces. They're popular educational tools for children and are helpful for logistics companies to chart the places where they've delivered.

Types of projections

Mercator projection: Adopted in the sixteenth century, this is the most popular projection type. It does, however, distort some country sizes.

Peter's projection: This projection has more accurate representations of countries than the Mercator, but it stretches out certain areas.

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Robinson projection: This 1963 projection type is more artistic than anything else. It's not the most accurate, most notably with its distortion of the poles.

Winkel Tripel projection: The National Geography Society embraces this representation, which earns high marks for its accuracy in expressing true country sizes. Like some other projections, it also somewhat distorts the poles.

Features

Size

Large maps are useful in classrooms and conference rooms for easy viewing from a distance.

Map information

Map information — including a compass, legend, and well-marked names — should be displayed. Dates are also important for political maps, and country flags are helpful to history and geography educators.

Map materials

Paper maps are common but can tear easily and eventually fade. As a result, you may wish to frame paper maps for more protection. Laminated maps are far more durable and, with many of them, you can even use dry erase markers. 

Price

You can find a poster-style world map well-suited for classroom use for less than $50. If you'd like a larger, more durable map, expect to spend between $50 and $100. Genuine map lovers seeking specialty or framed maps may spend $200 or more.

FAQ

Q. I have a map that is about 15 years old. Do I really need to upgrade?

A. Yes. It's a good idea to have current maps, as geopolitical changes occur. Just in the last decade, several countries have moved their capital cities and adopted new official country names.

Q. I bought a world map while traveling abroad. How do I ship it home so it arrives in pristine condition?

A. If you bought a map that isn't folded, roll it up and place it in a tube mailer.

World maps we recommend

Best of the best: Rand McNally's Classic USA and World Wall Map Set, 50" x 32"

Our take: Impressive quality from leading name in mapmaking. Attractive gold outlines give maps a professional finish.

What we like: Antique-inspired graphics with classic color choices. Value buy for two full-size maps.

What we dislike: Delicate material choice means it's susceptible to tears, so it's better off framed.

Best bang for your buck: Swiftmaps' World Classic Elite Wall Map, 24" x 36"

Our take: Modern map design with bold colors that are visible across a room. Appropriate for academic use.

What we like: Laminated finish means map holds up to heavy use. Can use dry erase markers on it.

What we dislike: Not as detailed as other classroom maps, and it's missing a couple major regions.

Choice 3: Landmass Goods' Scratch-Off World Map, 24" x 17"

Our take: Scratch-off map with flags for globetrotters to map their travel. Eye-catching color scheme.

What we like: Engaging map that can be used in classrooms and at home. True conversation piece.

What we dislike: Smaller than other maps and a bit more prone to tearing than expected.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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