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Welcome to TopoSkills!

At this site you will learn how to read and use topographic maps. There are many times in life when topographic maps are useful. The skills you learn at this site will serve you well.

What is a topographic map?

A topographic map is a three dimensional representation of the earth, or a specific part of it. Topographic maps are different from other types of maps because they use contour lines to show the shape and elevation of the earth's surface. Each contour line show one elevation and all points along a contour line are equal. When there is a change in elevation it is depicted with another contour line. Contour lines that are very close together indicate a steep change in elevation.Likewise, an area where contour lines are spread far apart indicates a slow change in elevation or no change at all.

In addition to contour, topographic maps show the location of physical features such as buildings, streets, streams, and woods. Symbols are used to represent these features. If a group of maps was created for a specific purpose, such as to show roadways, the symbols on each map will be the same. However, it is always important to check the legend so that you know what the symbols represent. We will learn more about legends as we continue.


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