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vineri, 25 ianuarie 2013

Political map of the world and of Europe (actual and at high resolution)


   Looking for something nice and free? And also actual and accurate? And also worldwide GIS data? Well, you've been good?
   I'd like to share with you the following maps and links to good GIS data, and also the story behind it.

   First of all - the final products, made by me:

   1. POLITICAL MAP OF THE WORLD (January 2013 Edition)

DOWNLOAD from (with free account) as:
HIGH RESOLUTION JPEG (10075 on 5042 px)

   2. POLITICAL MAP OF EUROPE (January 2013 edition)

DOWNLOAD  from (with free account) as:
HIGH RESOLUTION JPEG (4984 on 4472 px)

   Please consider that these maps are for free, coming as a personal initiative. I will try to update and upgrade them as time passes, still I hope that they are as accurate as can be. Feel free to tell me if you find any errors, or you have suggestions on how to improve them. Also, tell me if they look great printed for your office wall, or if you've found the secret message hidden in the southern part of ... 


   One day, a work colleague asked me: "Have you got a high resolution actual map with the world countries and capitals? I want to print it for my son - he needs to learn them for the geography class".   Hm, I remembered all those geography questions: where on the map is Congo and what's the capital? A nice wall map would have helped me then. And also now (I still don't know where everything is or what changed)!
   My answer was: "Nope, I don't have a map like this, but... I'll make sure I will have!". So the quest began.

   First of all, I defined what the map should be like:
   - have actual information
   - be at a high resolution, in order to look nice even on A0 format
   - have easy to read labels
   - be in Romanian (as my colleague's son needed)

   I make maps everyday. And this is why I know how much work you must put in order to make a world political map from scratch. It's the volume of data, the look, the manual placing of the labels, the required   correctness etc. Nowadays, you can find maps all around the internet, for free. Still, this is not a warranty that everything you find is good. But before I jump into a new project, I started looking for a already available map, according to my requirements. In English, I've found quite a lot of good maps - both free, high resolution and good looking (although many of them are not up-to-date - check for South Sudan as a test). Unfortunately, all I could find in Romanian language was poor quality. The other option, of course, was to buy one, but how could I say such a thing to my colleague?

   So, no problem! If I were to do a new world political map, I was going to benefit out of it:
   - make it available free on the internet: the internet gave me lot of things, I'm going to give it back something; at the beginning, I though just for Romania, but I realized that it's easy to turn it in English, for worldwide use - so here you are!.
   - always have this project in GIS, being able to use it together with other data
   - have all the geospatial data behind
   - have a new map for my wall, to brag when people come into my office

   So I started once again to Google, this time for GIS data of the world. There is quite a lot, but you must be careful - not everything is proper. Here's what I've found and used (with some adjustments):
   - World country borders (shapefile)
   The modified shapefiles for world country borders and world capitals can be downloaded HERE.

   The final phase was to actually make the maps. I used ArcMap 9.3. I worked with manual labeling - so I also learned even more about countries and their capitals, as I was arranging their names in place. The DEM's symbology is black and white and separated for land and oceans. The colors come from semitransparent masks.

   Enjoy using the maps, I hope they are useful. And Share this link!