Thematic Map


A thematic map is a type of map or chart especially designed to show a particular theme connected with a specific geographic area. These maps can portray physical, social, political, cultural, economic, sociological, agricultural, or any other aspects of a city, state, region, nation, or continent.

What is a Thematic Map?

Thematic maps are used to display the spatial pattern of geographical phenomena and attributes or series of related attributes across the globe. Unlike reference maps, which tell us where something is, thematic maps tell us how things are spread out, or how they relate to the spaces they occupy.

There are numerous types of thematic maps, including: choropleth, proportional symbol, dot, flow, and dasymetric maps. Choropleth maps show proportionate quantities or percentages related to a specific area, such as population density or income per region. Proportional symbol maps represent data proportional in size to the actual data quantity. Dot maps use dots of the same size to represent a certain quantity of phenomena. Flow maps illustrate movement of things between different areas, such as the number of people that commute to a city from surrounding areas. Dasymetric maps use statistical data to examine variable distribution.


What are the three types of thematic maps?

The three primary types of thematic maps are choropleth maps, proportional symbol maps, and dot maps. Choropleth maps display divided geographic areas that are coloured or patterned relative to a data variable. Proportional symbol maps use symbols of different sizes to represent data associated with different areas or locations within the map. Dot maps use a dot symbol to show the presence of a feature or phenomenon.

What is the purpose of a thematic map?

The main purpose of a thematic map is to display the spatial distribution of a specific data theme for a geographical area. They are primarily used to show statistical data in geographic format, for easy comprehension and visual comparisons.

How is a thematic map different from a topographic map?

While they both provide information about a geographical area, their purpose and presentation are what sets them apart. Topographic maps show the physical features of an area such as elevation levels, lands, water bodies, and man-made structures, they indicate the shape of the earth’s surface in the map area. On the other hand, thematic maps specifically represent the spatial distribution of one or more specific data themes.

What type of data do thematic maps display?

Thematic maps display statistical data such as climate, population, vegetation, geological, and pollution data. They can show any type of information that can be tied back to a geographic area. Visual elements such as color, area, length, height, or volume are used to represent these data for easy comprehension.

Ready to level up your map-making process?