Types of Maps

Date: 19/11/2022 Author: Antonio H.

Types of maps. Classification criteria

Maps can be classified according to different criteria, in our case we will classify them according to the content and mode of representation.

Maps by content type

Depending on the mode of representation of the terrain we can distinguish between

Raster maps

Raster maps consist of georeferenced images, that is, it is an image file to which coordinates are assigned so that it is displayed in the correct location when opened with an application. They can be built with standard image formats (jpg, bmp...) accompanied by a calibration file, although there are specific formats for digital cartography

raster map

Maps of this type can take up a lot of space in memory, so they are usually available as mosaic maps in which the entire map is divided into smaller pieces (tiles) to handle only the parts of the map corresponding to the area to be viewed. use.

Vector maps

This type of map is composed of vector objects such as polylines, polygons or points that contain additional information such as color, labels, type of terrain. These elements and other information will be arranged in layers that will be displayed based on the display options setting or zoom level. These maps may contain information that allows an application to automatically calculate routes.

vector map

DEM: Digital Elevation Model

They are maps that contain only information about terrain altitude. They will normally be used in combination with another map to render it in 3D and assign altitude to route points and waypoints. (See section "Information on data calculation methods" on this site)

Maps according to the mode of representation of the terrain

Depending on the way the terrain is represented, we can distinguish between:

Topographic maps


Raster or vector map that represents the terrain using contour lines, colors and graphic symbols to show information about the area such as geographical features, roads, trails, sources...


They are raster maps consisting of aerial images of the terrain with orthogonal projection (perpendicular to the surface). To avoid distortions due to the point of view of the camera, the aerial photographs are rectified to adapt them to the shape of the terrain.

orthophoto map

Road maps

These are vector maps especially oriented to urban and interurban navigation. Useful elements for the motorist or road user are highlighted.

road map


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