National Geographic Atlas of the World

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9780870449154: National Geographic Atlas of the World
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Each section of this fine-grained, hardcover volume opens with a state-of-the-art satellite image of one of the world's continents, and features extensively detailed maps of countries, states, provinces, and many major urban areas on that continent. Symbols pinpoint everything from capitols to sites of interest. Full-color maps.

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When National Geographic published its first Atlas of the World more than 35 years ago, the world was indeed a different place. In order to cover today's world--including its oceans, stars, climate, natural resources, and more--National Geographic has published its seventh edition of the Atlas of the World. With each new edition, National Geographic strives to make its atlas more than just maps. You'll learn that the coldest place in the world is the Plateau Station in Antarctica, where the average daily temperature is minus 56.7 degrees Celsius; the most populated continent is Asia, with more than 3.6 billion people, or 60.8 percent of the world's population; the driest place on earth is the Atacama Desert in Chile; a flight from New Delhi to Rio de Janeiro covers 14,080 kilometers; life expectancy in the Republic of Zambia is 37 years; and the literacy rate in Turkmenistan is 98 percent.

Flip through the pages of this impressive book and you will feel as though the world is literally at your fingertips. Full-page spreads are devoted to more than 75 political and physical maps (political maps show borders; physical maps show mountains, water, valleys, and vegetation). There are many new touches to be found in this edition, including increased usage of satellite images, an especially helpful feature when researching the most remote regions of the earth; more than 50 updated political maps that record the impact of wars, revolutions, treaties, elections, and other events; and the use of the latest research on topics such as tectonics, oceanography, climate, and natural resources. The sheer size of the atlas's index--134 pages--offers insight into just how much information is packed into 260-plus pages. The book is so physically large, in fact, that when it's open, the reader is staring at three square feet of information, a surface area larger than many television screens. The potential uses of this book for a family are vast, from settling a friendly argument to completing a school report. In the end, though, the atlas is still mostly about maps. Pages and pages of maps. Maps that force us to see how wonderful and dynamic our world is. Maps that remind us of where we've been and where we'd still like to go. --John Russell

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* The National Geographic Society (NGS) is celebrating its ninetieth year of mapmaking with the eighth edition of the Atlas of the World. Promotional material describes some of the differences from the seventh edition. There are 15,000 changes in the text and maps. The section on the "Human World" has new double-page spreads on "Migration," "Conflict and Terror," "Transportation and Communication," and "Health, Nutrition, and Literacy." These and other introductory topics have eye-catching maps, charts, graphs and photographs accompanied by a limited amount of text. "Transportation and Communication" clearly depicts the Internet explosion and the digital divide. Another change is a new "Cities" section with maps, fact boxes, and photographs of 51 world cities. Some maps are of the area (Philadelphia, Shanghai, Tehran); some of just the city center (Buenos Aires); and some of both (Beijing, Cairo, Tokyo). This section replaces the useful city-map section for each continent (which had many more maps of smaller cities) in the seventh edition.

The heart of the atlas, the maps of continents and countries, shows great cartography, the strength of NGS. As in previous editions, the Americas are first, with coverage proceeding eastward around the globe. North America is given additional coverage--22 maps for North America, 13 for Asia--since the primary readership is from the U.S and Canada. The maps are not as colorful as those in other atlases, but the number of place-names is impressive, rivaling the Times Atlas of the World (10th ed., Crown, 1999). All maps are double-page spreads, with the exception of four--Low Countries, Denmark, New Zealand, and New Guinea--that each have a single page. The binding is described as unique in that the atlas will open flat, but it is still tight, so some information will be lost if it is rebound.

An additional change from the previous edition is that the country information follows the map section rather than being included with each continent. The country facts are current, and there is a reference to the plate number for the country map. Other material includes updated geographic comparisons, for example, Mt. Everest increasing in height. Distances by air and temperature and rainfall for major cities are given in the metric system, which is not useful for many U.S. readers, although a conversion chart is provided. The index, with 140,000 entries, provides plate number and grid location with a descriptor for rivers, mountains, etc.

A Web site accompanies the atlas; its useful update section already has a printable patch for the new Great Sand Dunes National Park. Other features of the Web site are less useful, especially the flashy animations. The interactive maps will be of interest to student researchers.

World atlases never contain every town, lake, or mountain that a user may want to find. This atlas does not include my hometown of Worcester, N.Y., or Wahroonga, the suburb of Sydney, Australia, where my niece lived for a year. However, the National Geographic Atlas of the World is a major, comprehensive, current atlas that should be considered for high-school, academic, and public libraries as well as for individual purchase. It will be a mainstay of the atlas collection. Christine Bulson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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