Geography Skills Vocabulary

political map

shows information such as state or national borders; often show the capital cities and major cities of states or countries


tells you what the map shows

map legend or map key

explains the meaning of the symbols on the map


a marking or color that stands for something


shows distance; helps you see how far apart locations are

compass rose

shows you the cardinal directions of north, south, east, and west


a model of earth


an imaginary line that extends around the center of Earth


measure distances north and south of the equator


measure distances east and west of the prime meridian

prime meridian

the line of longitude marked as 0 degrees


half of Earth

absolute location

tells the exact location of a place on Earth

relative location

describes where a place is in relation to another place

physical geography

the natural features of a place

physical map

shows the landforms and bodies of water found in a place


the height of land above sea level

human geography

explains how people affect Earth's surface

population map

shows where people live