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Hi, I'm Jim McMahon. This will be my eighth year as Mapman, Scholastic's resident cartographer (mapmaker).

"Ask Mapman" is a place for you to explore the world of geography and mapmaking. It is also a forum for your questions. Over the years, I've tried to answer as many of them as possible.

The earliest existing map was sketched on a clay tablet in Babylonia (now part of Iraq) before 2000 B.C. Today, computers can generate sophisticated images of the planet Mars. Whether used by conquering armies or city planners, maps are snapshots of our changing world.

So send me your most puzzling questions, or anything else that intrigues you about the planet. If you're not sure what to ask, take a look at what some of our readers have submitted in years past:

In 1994, Ralph L. from Long Island, New York, asked:

Q Where does the word map come from?

A The word "map" is from the Latin mappa, originally an African word. It meant napkin, cloth, or sheet. The cloth was the material on which some Roman maps were drawn.

In 1995, Carmen M. and Scherrie B. from New Jersey queried:

Q Is mapmaking an art or a science?

A Mapmaking is both an art and a science. Its official name is cartography (the science or art of making maps). Mapmaking combines both the science of observation (land surveying, satellite imagery, and mathematics) with the art of graphic representation (drawing, plotting, and computer imaging).

In 1997, Ben N. from Utah wanted to know about tiny countries.

Q Which nation is the world's smallest?

A Spanning a couple of courtyards, a few beautiful gardens, and one famous chapel for a mere 109 acres, Vatican City is the world's smallest independent country. Located within the city of Rome, Italy, it is the only nation to claim Latin, the language of the Romans, as one of its official languages.
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Title Annotation:what's in a map
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Sep 17, 2001
Previous Article:Surviving At Sea.
Next Article:Dear Scholastic Teacher-Subscriber.

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