Geographic Atlas with classification and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Geographic Atlas

Geographical Atlas is the name given to a collection of maps of the various areas of the Earth , or of a specific region, but currently it may also be maps of other planets and spatial bodies in general. They are generally available in book or multimedia format and deal with the geographical, historical, political and social aspects of the areas they cover. In this article we will provide you the information about the Geographic Atlas.

The first to use the name atlas referring to a collection of maps is the Flemish cartographer (from Flanders, in present-day Belgium) Gerardus Mercator , in the 16th century. He made reference to the mythical King Atlas of Mauritania, a Berber kingdom that comprised part of the north of present-day Morocco and Algeria. King Atlas would have been a distinguished philosopher, mathematician and astronomer responsible for making the first projection of the terrestrial globe.

It is important to note that Mercator’s name is not only known for this distinction, but above all for having projected the most popular version of the world map ever – the Mercator Projection – still used frequently today in books of all kinds, including school atlases and virtual representations such as Google Earth .

This despite the errors it presents, in particular the fact of “flattening” and “stretching” the most distant areas from the Equator Line . Take as an example the size attributed to the island of Greenland , which despite being about 1/4 the size of the territory of Brazil, appears in the Mercator projection as having practically the same size as this one (Greenland has just over 2 million square kilometers of territory, while Brazil has just over eight and a half). Such distortions are understandable and, to a certain extent, inevitable, part of the challenging process of trying to represent a body originally in a spherical shape (the terrestrial globe) in a flat dimension (the map).

More recently, in 1855, Scottish clergyman James Gall produced a map of the world that sought to correct distortions in the Mercator projection; his work was revived by the German Arno Peters in 1973, reaching a certain popularity under the name ” Gall-Peters projection “. However, Mercator’s version of the flat representation of the terrestrial globe is still the most popular, being the one that everyone recognizes in everyday life.

Classification of Geographic Atlas

We can classify the various existing atlases into:

a) according to its length

  1. space or alien
  2. universal or worldwide;
  3. national
  4. regional
  5. district
  6. locations

b) according to the nature of the information

  1. geographical
  2. thematic

c) according to the support

  1. printed on paper
  2. electronic media

Basically, an atlas is useful insofar as it offers a complete and efficient synthesis of the reality of the areas covered, in its various aspects (economic, physical, social, geopolitical, among others). In this way, it becomes a compendium of knowledge about the approached place.

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

In the field of Cartography, it is considered that the first modern atlas prepared in the world was made in 1570 in Belgium, whose editor would have been Abraham Ortelius, a cartographer and geographer who lived between the years 1527 and 1598.

Ortelius would have created the famous Atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or Teatro do Globo Terrestre , which had several editions and revisions until the death of its editor, having been published in at least seven languages.

Ortelius was largely influenced by Gerardo Mercator, a mathematician, geographer and cartographer, whose notoriety lies in the development of the Mercator projection. In its original version, Ortelius’s atlas had 70 maps that were not authored by him, but by other cartographers, as well as 87 bibliographical references

The maps contained in the atlas were accompanied by a description and important comments, which were organized according to continents, regions and states.

The Atlas Variety

There are many types of atlases, from research-oriented to teaching-oriented ones. Cultural atlases , atlases of the migration issue , atlases focused on substances such as pesticides in the world, atlases of the religious issue , etc. are common.

School atlases are widely used as resources that complement the teaching of geography, especially in the context of Cartography. With the advent of Thematic Cartography, which presents a huge variety of possible maps on the most varied themes, atlases also underwent an expansion of their approach.

Thus, if before the maps were restricted to portraying the territories only with their formal demarcations, or at most with some physical aspects (relief, altitude), today the maps present different themes, and are used in the construction of knowledge about the dynamics of space geographical .

There are atlases for children, with colorful pictures and explanations about the landscapes, but there are also very detailed ones, used for specific purposes by professionals from different areas.

The atlas is, in this sense, an agglomeration of knowledge , which are arranged in this material that is conventionally called an atlas.

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