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What Is A Thematic Map And Its Types?

by Ragini Salampure
What Is A Thematic Map

Many among us do not know what is a thematic map. General reference maps were invented many years ago. These maps were used to see the direction from one point to another. But today, maps can not only display directions but also all kinds of data and findings. So, if you have zero knowledge about what a thematic map is, then you have arrived at the right page! In today’s article, you will learn everything about the thematic maps in detail. Here, I have also included its characteristics, uses, and types along with pros and cons. Why waste more time, let us begin to read what is a thematic map and its types.

What Is A Thematic Map?

A thematic map is a statistical, single-topic map that mainly focuses on specific themes or distributions. This includes population density, rainfall levels, vegetation distribution, poverty, and more. These maps have attributes that display visible spatial patterns. They are also called geographic, parametric, or special purpose maps.

But, do not get confused between the thematic map and reference maps. The thematic maps are different from reference maps which only include elements like roads, topography, and boundaries.

There are different types of thematic maps, let us have a look at the seven most used thematic maps.

Examples Of Thematic Map

Here, I have listed down examples of thematic maps.

  • To display the unemployment rate of any country, a choropleth map can be used to display the results using different colors.
  • A graduated symbol map can be used to separate the population of different cities into different classes.

Types Of Thematic Maps

By now you have understood what is a thematic map in short. Here, I have listed seven different types of thematic maps. All of them are used in different applications for different purposes. You can keep on reading to study them in detail.

  1. Choropleth Map

The choropleth map is the most commonly used map in Geospatial data. In this thematic map, people use color to represent statistics of an attribute proportional to its location. This map can be used to know the statistical values in different geographical scales from both global to local areas. However, there are some pros and cons you must be aware of this thematic map.

Pros

  • It displays densities of qualities using different colors.

Cons

  • The displayed results might not be accurate.
  • You cannot use this map in non-uniform areas.

You can keep on reading to know what is a thematic map in geography.

  1. Dot Distribution Map

A dot distribution map is also known as a dot density map. It is a thematic map that uses dots to display the presence or absence of any feature. In this, the only point is used to represent larger quantities. For example, if you look at the image, one dot represents 100 indigenous people in South Africa. This dot distribution map shows the spatial pattern of where indigenous people live in South Africa. You can keep on reading to know the pros and cons of a dot distribution map.

Pros

  • They display results in spatial patterns.
  • This thematic map also represents different categories using colors.

Cons

  • The randomly generated points might differ from the new points.
  • We do not know where these dots represent if the map is shown without borders.

ADD Image of the dot distribution map of South Africa.

  1. Graduated Symbol Map

Graduated maps an alternative thematic map choropleth map. The only difference is that instead of using colors this map use points to indicate attributes or statistics. Here, the data is stored in Polygons and then is converted into centroid points. This thematic map can be used when you want to visualize quantities rather than densities. You can divide the attributes quantities into several classes using different classification techniques like quantile, natural breaks, and equal interval. Let us now have a look at the strength and weaknesses of this thematic map.

Pros

  • This map shows better raw quantities rather than densities with choropleth maps.
  • They convey where and how many quantities are located in a selected location.

Cons

  • This map needs preprocessing to derive centroids.
  • Due to overlapping circles, it can provide inaccurate results.

To know what is a thematic map in thematic analysis, you should keep on reading.

  1. Heat Maps

The fourth type of thematic map is a heat map. Basically, this map displays the density of points on a geographic map. They can effectively visualize the intensity of the variable through a color scale. This technique comes in handy when geographic boundaries are not that much important. Here, I have also listed down a few pros and cons of heat maps.

Pros

  • You can easily understand the relationship between data points and overall trends by using this thematic map.

Cons

  • This map might affect the clarity of the visualization if the colors are not used properly.
  • The color transitions might represent perceptions that are not even possible.

Let’s check out the next thematic type.

  1. Cartogram Map

The next type of thematic map is a cartogram. In this map, the size of an area is rescaled to be proportional to the feature it generally represents. When the rescaled size communicates the selected feature attributes, cartograms distort the area sizes. Though there are several types of cartograms, the most commonly used one is contagious cartograms. In contagious cartograms, the topology is maintained but the shape or size is dramatically distorted.

Pros

  • This map can be used for showing numbers such as the number of people.

Cons

  • The areas might not be recognizable on this map.
  • They are can be understood only by map-literate people.

You can also check out the image to understand what is a thematic map short answer.

ADD IMAGE

  1. Bivariate Choropleth Map

The bivariate choropleth map is somewhat similar to the choropleth map but still has only one difference. Bivariate choropleth map uses two variables at once to display densities. This method will help you to compare two dissimilar distributions on the same map simultaneously. It can be useful when you have two dissimilar attributes that need to be displayed at once. Continue reading to know the pros and cons of bivariate choropleth maps.

Pros

  • This map visualizes two themes at the same time.
  • They are designed beautifully.

Cons

  • Sometimes, the displayed results are complex and hard to read.
  • You may find it difficult in having an interactive version of this map.

If you want to know what is a thematic map in research, then check out the next thematic map.

  1. Value By Alpha Map

Another thematic map that is closely related to the bivariate choropleth map is the value by alpha map. In this map, two variables are considered that can affect each other. For example, election results and population density are two variables that can affect each other. Here, the second variable acts as an equalizer while the first one is the variable of interest. Now, have a look at the pros and cons of this thematic map.

Pros

  • It displays bivariate relationships with more than 3 classes.
  • They are beautifully designed.

Cons

  • Sometimes, the results of these thematic maps are complex and hard to understand.
  • You need to have an interactive version of the bivariate map.

Characteristics Of Thematic Maps

Before you move forward towards studying what is a thematic map used for, let us have a look at its characteristics. Here, I have listed down few characteristics of thematic maps.

  • It displays densities of qualities using different colors.
  • They are beautifully designed.
  • Some thematic maps, display relationships between two variables in more than 3 classes.
  • This map can visualize two themes at the same time.
  • They display results in spatial patterns.

Uses Of Thematic Maps

You must be surprised to know that the importance of thematic maps is greater than general maps. But do you know why are thematic maps useful? Keep on reading to go through the uses of thematic maps.

  • These maps can only show few selected features.
  • You need thematic maps to study the environmental relationships.
  • It is useful in studying the relationship between two or more variables in the same region at the same time.
  • The cartogram map can be used for showing numbers such as the number of people.
  • You can easily understand the relationship between data points and overall trends by using heat thematic maps.

Thematic Maps In Psychology

Have you ever wondered what is a thematic map in psychology? Well, a thematic map in psychology helps us to analyze the quantitative data from user studies. This includes interviews, focus groups, workshops, diary studies, or even contextual inquiries. Here, different themes are used so that the analysis can be visualized in a mind-map.

You can keep on reading to know the characteristics of thematic maps.

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FAQ

What Is A Thematic Map Simple Definition?

A thematic map can be defined as a statistical map that focuses on the spatial variability of a specific distribution or category. This includes population density or average annual income. While a reference map only focuses on locations and names of features.

What Is A Thematic Map Example?

A thematic map is used to show the geographical or cultural traits of a particular area. For example, you can use the thematic map to show the religious affection of a specific country. It provides great insight into the culture of that community.

What Are The 3 Types Of Thematic Maps?

The three types of thematic maps are as follows.

  • Choropleth maps
  • Dot distribution maps
  • Graduated symbol maps

What Is The Topic Of A Thematic Map?

Thematic maps are statistical maps that usually focus on specific themes or categories. For example, categories such as population density, rainfall levels, vegetation distribution, and poverty. The only difference between thematic maps and reference maps is that it includes different elements like roads, topography, and political boundaries.

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Conclusion

In my above-written article, we have studied what is a thematic map and its uses. It is a statistical, single-topic map that mainly focuses on specific themes or distributions. There is a total of seven different types of thematic maps. And they are Choropleth, Value By Alpha, Bivariate Choropleth, Heat Map, Cartogram, Dot distribution, and Graduated symbol maps. Each of these thematic maps has strengths and drawbacks. The choropleth map is the most commonly used map in Geospatial data. It uses color to represent statistics of an attribute proportional to its location. After thoroughly reading what is a thematic map, do share your favorite thematic map with us!

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