What a Physical Map shows?

Alex Williams
8 Min Read

Planning to visit some mountains or coastal regions in another country? Wanting to look up different places you can visit? You have got nothing to worry about. You have maps, and a physical map shows the convenient form of a location just like the 3D representation of a globe. But while you are travelling, the globe does not come in very handy. Hence, we make use of a physical map. We believe these terms aren’t alien to you. Nonetheless, you have nothing to worry about because in this article we would be emphasizing what a physical map means, what a physical map shows and the importance of a physical map.

1. What does Physical Map mean?

A physical map shows a graphical representation of the physical location of identifiable landmarks. It tries to depict or replicate the physical features of natural landscapes such as mountains, rivers, coastal regions, oceans, plains, plateaus and other topographic features. They are also known to be called relief maps. (See How can You differentiate between Map and Globe?)

2. What’s the Physical Feature?

Physical features, known as landforms are parts of a landscape or an organism which you can see or touch. This term is usually used in geology and in the context of geography, physical features mean an isolated phenomenon that exists at a site like rivers, mountains, forests, seas and so on. Similarly, physical features used in biology on a living being would be height, weight, size, eyes, ears, nose and other features that you can see. (See What are Geologic features?)

3. What are 3 Features of a Physical Map?

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  • The features of a physical map give out information about drainage, relief and topographic features. These include mountains, water bodies, deserts, major rivers, rainforests oceans etc on a global level.
  • The maps represent components like elevation and height, scale, national borders and cities.
  • A physical map shows a unique designation and colour assigned for mountains, plains, deserts and so on. 

4. What a Physical Map shows?

A physical map shows the physical features of a landscape or an area. It illustrates the geography and all the physical divisions of a place. It often includes much of the information on the political map which are the landforms like deserts, plains, plateaus, mountains etc. (See What is the importance of Geography?)

5. What Data does a Physical Map show?

Now that we are aware of what a physical map shows, let us look at the data it represents. A physical map shows the geographic representation of important landmarks. It usually depicts the most important physical boundaries like the state and the country boundaries. Important cities and roads are also highlighted.

Moreover, the landforms are depicted using different colours. The dark green colour is used to show the near-sea level elevation; rivers, lakes, seas and other water bodies are shown in light blue; and ice caps and glaciers are in white. Must read What are Some Map Distortion Examples?

6. What is the Importance of a Physical Map?

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A lot of people do not prefer using a physical map seeing its complex outlook. Hence, it is necessary to understand the importance of a physical map.

  • The basic and most important characteristic, of a physical map, provides information such as a relief or topography or the depth, height or shape of a natural landmark.
  • It helps identify the natural features of the land. For example- if a road map can help people understand how to travel to certain places following the routes, similarly a physical map can help identify the physical terrain of a place.

7. What Map shows Natural Features?

We have acknowledged the importance of a physical map, let’s take a look at its features as well. The physical map documents the natural elements of landmarks like rivers, mountains, hills, forests, deserts, plains, plateaus, valleys etc. (See What is the difference between Hills and Mountains?)

8. Which Type of Map shows Landforms?

Physical maps are the representation of landforms of a physical area. Physical maps sometimes do depict political boundaries but their primary feature is to show landforms. These maps often show the most important physical features in geography like mountains, hills, rivers, lakes etc and differentiate them using different colours. Must read What are Types of Landscape?

9. What are Physical Features of Land?

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After learning about the physical features of a map, take an insight into the features of the land. The physical features of the land are majorly represented by its landforms. There are four major types of landforms- mountains, hills, plateaus and plains. There are some minor landforms as well which include canyons, valleys, basins etc. (See What is North South East West called on a Map?)

10. What are the Physical Features in Geography?

Geographical features are the features which are created by man or by nature. The physical features in geography include landforms, water bodies, soil, natural vegetation, climate, lives of the animals, mountains, valleys, hills and many more. 

11. What are Physical Features of the Earth?

The physical features or the major highlight of landforms on Earth is its continents, islands, plains, peninsulas, and plateaus. There are water bodies like oceans, seas, gulfs, bays etc. Other elements include mountains and foothills, valleys, deserts, basins, oceans, etc. 

Physical maps are important paper map which in the absence of a 3-D Map, helps visualize the landmarks one seeks to see. Even political maps are drawn and based on physical maps. Physical maps are a great source of topographical understanding and of immense use to geologists. This article talked in depth about what the physical map shows and discussed its features and importance in geography. We hope this article gave you some new learnings and was helpful to you. (Also read What are the 5 Features of the Earth?)

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