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I am a bit of an atlas geek. As a child I usually had my head stuck in a good atlas and still have a several now. I remember my mum buying me a book called the Golden Age of Discovery which detailed the discovery of the New World. At least I think it did, I never actually read it and instead enjoyed the free map, which I stuck on my bedroom wall and stared at. At various points in my life I have had a variety of maps on my walls, so I thrilled that back in January, after the Dooyoo International Destinations competition, I was fortunate to win one of the prizes of a map from Maps International. The map I received was a large political map of Europe.
The first thing I have to say is that it is absolutely massive! Measuring approx 135cm high by almost a metre wide, it is not a map that is easily missed. It is printed on good quality, substantial paper (it would have to be at that size) and the colours are strong and vibrant.
As it is a political map the emphasis is on countries and their borders. Each country is a different colour, major cities are represented as are important roads. As it is such a large map, there is a lot of information on it and it is extremely detailed which doesn't always make it easy to read. Cities are given their local names i.e. Rome is called Roma, Lisbon is Lisboa etc, which I quite like, but may not be to everyone's taste. Cities are given a different size of text dependant on size (defined by population) and capital cities are in capital letters. There is a large, clear map legend in the bottom right hand corner clarifying this and the relevant population sizes as is fairly standard on political maps. I was pleased to note that the map is bang up to date, with all the newer independent, former Yugoslav states depicted.
Whilst the map is officially political, there are a number of features that I would normally expect to see on physical maps. Normally physical maps show water as blue and the land as green (for example) and mountains as shades of this going into tones of grey or brown (dependant on height), deserts and plains would be lighter, going towards yellow perhaps and the polar regions white. On this map major bodies of water such as large lakes are depicted, as are major rivers, although the level of detail in the map with the road routes can make the latter hard to identify. Mountains are also depicted using darker tones of the ground colour and this is my minor problem with this map. Whilst I appreciate the details, this means place names in countries like Switzerland are hard to read, especially when you consider that this particular country is quite a dark blue-green. I think it would have been better to have the mountainous countries in paler colours.
Also included in the legend are the flags of all the countries of Europe. I am quite poor at my flag knowledge, especially of the newer countries, so am sure I would find this useful if it were easier to refer to - the size of the map means I am not going to be hanging it on my wall any time soon. Its size limits the walls I could put it on, and it would tend to dominate that wall/room. However if you had the right amount of wall space in the appropriate room, it is certainly a colourful, eye-catching map. It would need to be secured either in a frame or with plenty of pins as I think it would be too heavy for blu-tak or similar. The map came rolled in a tube, so there are no crease marks and the tube (should I ever be able to get it back in there) will protect it until such a time as I wish to refer to it again or re-design my spare room in order to hang it. The map retails for £26 on the Maps International website and I think it would be great for a school classroom or office where it could be used on a daily basis. It is a professional looking, quality map that is probably too big for most home environments.
Size: 1648mm (w) x 1196mm (h)