Map Vocabulary Book

& More
What is a map?
Physical Map
Definition: A map that shows the location of physical
features, such as landforms, bodies of water, or resources.
Sentence: A climate zone map is a
type of physical map.
Physical Feature
Definition: The landforms, bodies of water,
climate, natural vegetation, and soil of the
earth that are created by nature and make a
place unique.
Sentence: A few physical features of Georgia are the
Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Chattahoochee River.
Definition: A feature on
the surface of the earth.
Sentence: Examples of landforms are
mountains, valleys, plateaus, deserts, plains,
islands, and peninsulas.
Definition: Elevation is the altitude or
height of the land above sea level.
Green indicates lowest elevations.
Brown indicates highest elevations.
Sentence: Mt. McKinley, Alaska is the highest
elevation in the U.S. and Death Valley is the
lowest elevation.
Great Plains
Definition: In geography, a
plain is land with relatively
low relief (elevation), that is
flat or gently rolling. Prairies
and steppes are types of
The Great Plains is a vast
region of North America
which lies west of the
Mississippi River and east of
the Rocky Mountains .
Sentence: The Great Plains is an important region for
Great Lakes
Definition: Five freshwater lakes between the
United States and Canada.
Sentence: The five Great Lakes are Lake Superior, Lake
Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario.
Continental Divide
Definition: An imaginary line that sits atop a
continuous ridge of mountain summits that
divide the continent into two main drainage
Sentence: The Continental Divide runs along the crest of the
Rocky Mountains.
Great Basin
Definition: A basin is a large or
small depression in the
surface of the land or in the
ocean floor.
The Great Basin is an area in
the western United States
(mostly in Nevada and part
of California, Oregon, Idaho,
and Utah) where rivers and
lakes have no outlet to the
Sentence: The Great Basin is like a big sink.
Death Valley
Definition: Death Valley is a desert valley
located in Eastern California. Situated within
the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest,
driest, and hottest locations in North America.
Sentence: Table salt is a natural resource in
Death Valley.
St. Lawrence River
Definition: Links the Great Lakes to the Atlantic
Ocean (490 N, 670 W)
Sentence: Jacques Cartier was the first
European to explore the St. Lawrence River.
Atlantic Coastal Plain
A coastal plain is a flat, level area
of land near an ocean.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain is the
area of the southern and
southeastern U.S extends to the
continental shelf and is
generally characterized by level
(flat) land with assorted mixed
forests. The coastal areas
include bayous, deltas, marshes,
mud flats and swamps.
Sentence: The Atlantic Coastal Plain is a
habitat for many sea birds.
Gulf of Mexico
Definition: A gulf is a
portion of an
ocean or sea partly
that is enclosed by
land. The Gulf of
Mexico is part of the
Atlantic Ocean that
is bordered by the
southeast coast of
the United States
and the east coast of
Sentence: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
caused major damage to the environment.
Political Map
Definition: A map that shows boundaries of
cities, states, and countries.
Sentence: The political map of the United
States changed as new states were admitted.
Map Symbol
Definition: A map symbol is something used to
represent something else.
Sentence: A black dot is a symbol that usually
represents a city.
Map Legend or Map Key
Definition: A part of the map that explains any
symbols or colors on a map. A map legend
may also be referred to as a map key.
Sentence: A map legend is like a dictionary; it
tells what the map symbols mean.
Compass Rose
Definition: A part of the map that shows the
cardinal (N, S, E, W) and intermediate (NE, SE,
SW, NW) directions.
Sentence: A compass rose comes in many
different designs.
Definition: A word used to identify a point or an
area on the earth’s surface or elsewhere. A
synonym for location is place.
Sentence: The location of Sope Creek Elementary
school is on Paper Mill Road in Marietta, GA.
Locations are found on a map by using
a grid system made up of lines of
latitude and longitude.
Definition: An imaginary horizontal line that
measures the distance, north or south, in
degrees from the equator (00). These lines are
often referred to as parallels.
Sentence: The latitude of Atlanta, GA is 440N
Definition: The imaginary line around the
middle of the earth. It is 00 latitude.
Sentence: The equator divides the earth in half
making two “equal” parts.
Definition: An imaginary
vertical line that
measures the distance,
east or west, in degrees
from the Prime
Meridian (00). These
lines are often referred
to as meridians.
Sentence: The longitude of Atlanta, GA is 840W.
Prime Meridian
Definition: The line of longitude located at zero
degrees (00).
Sentence: The Prime Meridian runs through
Greenwich, England.
Map Scale
Definition: A part of a map that compares
distance on a map to distance in the real
Sentence: The scale of this map is 1 inch equals
100 yards.
Map & Globe Skills Review
Physical features give each part of the country
its special character. Examples of physical
features are landforms, bodies of water, climate,
natural vegetation, and soil. A landform is a
feature on the surface of the land, such as The
Atlantic Coastal Plain, The Great Plains,
Continental Divide, The Great Basin, Death Valley,
Gulf of Mexico, St. Lawrence River, and The Great
Lakes. If you traveled across the United States
from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, you would
see these unique physical features.
Geographers create maps that are visual
representations of a portion of the earth. The
features of a map help us understand the
information presented. These special features
on a map include: a map key, legend, symbol(s),
compass rose, scale, and a grid system to help
easily describe a location through latitude and
longitude lines. There are two special lines on a
world globe that are important to remember, the
Prime Meridian (longitude) and the Equator
There are many types of maps, but we will
focus on two. A physical map is a map that
shows location of physical features, such as
landforms, bodies of water, or resources. A
political map is a map that shows cities, states,
and countries.
Geographers think about the Earth and the
way people make it their home. Therefore,
they ask questions about where a place is, and
what it is like. They also ask how the land
affects people and how people affect the land.
Their answers help us better understand our
past, present, and future.
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