World Atlas

World Atlas: A world atlas is a collection of maps bound together in the form of a book, often illustrating geographical and political features, including various thematic elements such as climate, population, and historical data of different regions across the globe.

In Depth Explanation of World Atlas

The term 'world atlas' derives from the Greek mythological figure Atlas, who was condemned to hold up the sky. The etymology signals the idea of bearing the weight of the world, metaphorically capturing the comprehensive nature of these collections. The first modern atlas, 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' (Theatre of the World), was created by Abraham Ortelius in 1570. This was a pivotal moment in cartography, consolidating various maps into a systematic collection for the first time. World atlases have evolved over the centuries, incorporating advances in cartography, navigation, and geographic sciences.

In contemporary usage, a world atlas contains not only political and physical maps but also thematic maps that provide insights into various aspects such as economics, sociology, and environmental data. The advent of digital mapping has shifted much of this work online, allowing for interactive and continually updated versions. However, printed world atlases remain cherished for their historical value and educational utility.

A Practical Example of the World Atlas

A prime example of the world atlas' impact on cartography is Abraham Ortelius' 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,' published in 1570. This atlas comprised 53 maps, systematically organized for ease of use and comparison, effectively revolutionizing the way geographical information was compiled and disseminated. This assemblage of global maps ushered in a new era of standardized cartography, influencing subsequent map-making and geographical studies for generations.

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