PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2009, 12:00am

Early conquests

It seems man began making maps around 6th century BC. The ancient Romans made maps as they expanded their empire. The ancient Chinese were also making maps by at least the 5th century. The first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang (259 BC - 210 BC), needed maps when he unified the country. Some Chinese maps that are around 2,500 years old still exist.

The oldest map of the world was made by a Greek called Ptolemy. He made it around 150 AD. In those days, there were many places in the world people didn't know about. The map included Europe, China and India.

Getting around

At some time in our life - probably many times - we all have to use a map.

A map is a drawing of an area - or even the whole world - on a flat surface. The formal word for this is cartography. Someone who makes maps is called a cartographer.

We do not know who made the first maps. Drawings on cave walls that are thousands of years old may be maps of the night skies. People have even discovered a drawing on a wall that is 9,000 years old. It appears to be a map of an ancient city. But some historians say it is just art.

First detailed map of the world

In 1154, an Arab geographer called Muhammad al-Idrisi made the best map of the world at the time. He lived in Sicily. He collected the information for his map from traders and explorers who had travelled around the world.

His map is surprisingly accurate. For three centuries, it was copied and distributed without question. It included details of Europe, the north of Africa, India and the Far East. The map was called Tabula Rogeriana.

The age of exploration

In the 15th century, Europeans began their long journeys on ships. They wanted trade and conquest. At the beginning, they relied on old maps like the one by al-Idrisi. But they soon began to improve them with the information they gathered.

In 1492, a German made the first globe. A globe is a ball with all of the countries, seas and oceans of the world on it.

In the early days of travel, there were many parts of the world nobody had been to. It was not until the early 1600s that serious mapping of North America started.

Satellites and Google

Today, satellites make it possible for us to make very accurate maps of the world. We don't need to rely on drawings anymore. We can use photographs. You can look at almost anywhere in the world using Google Earth. If you haven't used it yet, give it a try. You can probably even zoom in and see where you live.

now do this

1 The formal word for making maps is ...

a. geography

b. cartography

c. mapography

2 The first reasonably accurate map of the world was created by ...

a. Qin Shihuang

b. an Arab geographer

c. a Sicilian explorer

3 The first globe was made in ...

a. Germany

b. Sicily

c. Persia


November 4

1. c, 2. b, 3. a