The Political Map

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Political - A political map shows human-made things like borders, countries, capitals, and major cities. They can also show roads, railroad tracks, important bodies of water, parks, and many other human-made things.

I recommend that you do the political map after the physical map.  Why? Because political borders are often determined by physical landforms (example: the Columbia River forms part of the border between Oregon and Washington).

Here is an example of a political map:

Making a Political Map First you need to decide where to make your borders for states and countries. States and countries often make their borders along rivers, mountain ranges, and even lakes. They also use lines of longitude and latitude. Check your physical map to determine logical places to make your political borders. 

Use a pencil to sketch borders. You can then darken them with sharpie or colored pencils. You can color each state a different color or use different colors to outline the borders.  Next, label the names of the states. Notice on the above map of India that country names are written in larger capital letters, and cities are written with smaller letters.  The different size of the words indicates different-sized units.  Example:  COUNTRY NAME, State Name, City Name.  The first letter of country, state, and city names are always capitalized (they are proper nouns). Think of names for your states that relate to your theme.

Now it is time to add cities. You cities should be located in logical places.  Cities tend to be located near rivers or other bodies of water.  Usually cities are not located in isolated places like deserts or the mountains, so look at you physical map for clues as to where your cities should be. Again, make up city names related to your theme.

Each state should have a capital city.  Your country should have a national capital too.  Try to add lots of other medium and small cities. Give them interesting names.

Make sure your map key describes the symbols you use. An example of symbols for a political map might look like this:

                   =          National Capital

                  8     =          State Capital

                               =          Big City (1,000,000+)

                               =          Medium City (250,000 1,000,000)

                                =          Small City (less than 250,000)

Important rivers, oceans, and lakes are often labeled on a political map but other landforms are usually not.

Add color to the entire map.  Color all the "blank spots" with an attractive neutral color.  Add some color to oceans and other bodies of water.  Don't let the map be boring!