A CDE Definition
(Data West Research Agency definition: see GIS glossary.) A map that displays the spatial distribution of an attribute that relates to a single topic, theme, or subject of discourse. Usually, a thematic map displays a single attribute (a "univariate map") such as soil type, vegetation, geology, land use, or landownership. For attributes such as soil type or land use ("nominal" variables), shaded maps that highlight regions ("polygons") by employing different colors or patterns is generally wanted. For other attributes (like population density - a "metric" variable), a shaded map in which each shade corresponds to a range of population densities is generally wanted.
Thematic maps are used to display geographical concepts such as density, distribution, relative magnitudes, gradients, spatial relationships and movements. Also called geographic, special purpose, distribution, parametric, or planimetric maps.
The GIS terms under the entries GIS glossary: a-g and GIS glossary: h-t are condensed and reproduced with permission from "A Practitioner's Guide to GIS Terminology" by Stearns J. Wood. Compiled over 30 years and first published in 1984, the book contains more than 10,000 terms embracing all aspects of geoprocessing and geoanalysis, spatial and network analysis, resource management, facilities management, automated mapping, computer-aided design and drafting, database management systems, open systems connectivity and geographic information system computer technology. Selected terms from geography, cartography, computer science, urban and regional information systems, remote sensing and GPS are also included. See GIS glossary: a-g and GIS glossary: h-t.
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