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.