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1.4.1. Content

Thematic Maps

Thematic maps represent the distribution of a particular geographical feature, or of a structural relationship between several features. Like topographic maps, thematic maps show spatial information. But this information serves merely as a locational framework or skeleton upon which the distribution or relationship is hung. (Asche et al. 2002)

Density of Protestants and Resident population, 2004Density of Protestants and Resident population, 2004 (Atlas der Schweiz 2.0)

It is often difficult to draw a clear-cut distinction between thematic and topographic map because topographic maps incorporate thematic components such as infrastructure, and thematic representations display locational features including rivers, terrain and political boundaries as a spatial background to the actual theme. (Asche et al. 2002)

Thematic maps can be either qualitative or quantitative.

Qualitative Thematic Maps

A qualitative thematic map represents merely the properties or attributes of geographical features and their distribution or location (e.g. land use) (Asche et al. 2002).

Deposits of ores and minerals, 2004Deposits of ores and minerals, 2004 (Atlas der Schweiz 2.0)

Quantitative Thematic Maps

Quantitative thematic maps, on the other hand, display the spatial aspects of numerical data. In most instances, a single variable, such as people or income, is chosen, and the map focuses on the variation of the feature from place to place.

Population density of Switzerland in the year 2000Population density of Switzerland in the year 2000 (Atlas der Schweiz 2.0)remark

If you want to get more information about the topic "thematic and topographic maps" consult the lectures of the Institute of Cartography of the ETH Zurich.

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