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For millennia, we humans have felt the need to understand the place in which we live. And what we slowly learnt, we put into maps that became increasingly precise. Cartography, or the science of map-making, consists in representing the spherical surface of the Earth, or part of it, on a flat surface.

- History
- From Babylonian tablets down to today’s way of satellite photography.
- The oldest map in the world is attributed to Greek sage Anaximandro.
- The campaigns of Alexander the Great contributed to the growth of Greek cartography
- Eratosthenes was the first geographer to calculate the length of the Equator.
- Hiparco of Rhodes, one of the fathers of scientific cartography
- Claudios Ptolomeo’s great contribution was his constant and universal scheme of latitude and longitude.

- Islam and the present
- One of the most important cartographers in history was the Arab, Al-Drisi
- The science of cartography first blossomed at sea. Sailing charts of Mediterranean coasts were the first scientific maps because they were compiled from continuous and careful observations by sailors. They were sometimes known as portulanos or “port guides”.
- The introduction of the use of the compass and the development of the astrolabe.
- The American continent owes its name to an error of German cartographer, Waldseemüller, who christened the newly-discovered “New World” in honour of Américo Vespucio.
- The projection of Flemish cartographer Mercator represented a revolution for navigation since its characteristics allowed routes to be plotted in straight lines.

- Cartographic technique: All maps lie
- In 1775, Leonhard Euler demonstrated that it is impossible to represent the surface of a sphere or any part of it on a plane without distortion.
- Mercator’s projection is the type of map that is more widely known and used

- The problem with Greenland
- Mercator’s map is very precise in those areas near the Equator. As it moves away from the Equator, however, it becomes increasingly distorted
- In our map, the Island of Greenland, located far from the Equator, appears with a surface area similar to Africa when it is really 15 times smaller
- The majority of today’s maps are based on the MUT or Mercator Universal Trans-section.
- Thanks to contemporary cartography systems, we can enjoy spectacular views of the Earth

- Present-day cartography
- Today’s cartography has several additional uses, such as the layout of streets, highways and railway lines, administering plots of farm land, fire and natural disaster controls and crop planning amongst many others.
- The physical appearance our world offers is changing continuously due to the different seasons, desertification, flooding, etc.
- We humans also alter landscapes. Cities, highways, marshes, bridges and crops have all changed the appearance of our world deeply.
- Profound social and political changes are factors affecting cartography very directly.
- All these circumstances make cartography a science that is in permanent evolution.

- A look from afar
- When seen from space, the Earth is a beautiful, delicate blue sphere and the national frontiers cartographers draw on maps simply do not exist.

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