geography > geographical skills
Learning Geographical skills is a really important part to Geography. Below are some key facts on Geographical skills that could even, one day, possibly save your own life!

Latitude and Longitude

Compasses

Scale

Gridreferences

Contour Lines

Resources
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The Earth is split up into horizontal and vertical lines. These are known as lines of Latitude and lines of Longitude. Lines of latitude are horizontal and lines of longitude are vertical. We measure each of these lines in degrees (latitude: degrees North/South) (longitude: degrees East/West). We get these degrees from how far away they are from the center line (the higher the number, the further away from the center line). The center line for latitude is the Equator and the center for longitude is the Greenwich Meridian line. Lets look at a map and try to locate a city (using latitude and longitude):
We are going to try and locate London on the map. Remember: Whenever you find the latitude and longitude of something, you always find the latitude first. Lets look at the steps to finding the location of London:
 Find the part where the Equator line and the Greenwich line intersect (where they meet).
 Move your finger along the Greenwich Meridian line until you reach directly the same height as London. On this map, it is roughly 52 degrees North of the equator. The latitude of London is roughly 52 degrees North. Note this down somewhere.
 Put your finger back on the Equator and move your finger until you are above or below (in this case below) London. Calculate the number of degrees that you come away from the Greenwich Meridian line. In this case, London is roughly 0 degrees away from the Greenwich Meridian line. The Longitude of London is roughly 0 degrees.
 The Latitude and Longitude of London is: 52 degrees N 0 degrees W.
Scale is a very important part to map reading as well. There are 2 main types of scale: largescale maps and smallscale maps. Largescale maps are maps that show the most detail but only cover a small area. Town maps that show road layouts are examples of largescale maps. Smallscale maps show less local detail but cover a larger area. Maps in atlases showing countries are good examples of smallscale maps.
Scale on a map is written with 2 numbers separated by a colon. For example, the scale on a map is 1:10,000. This means that 1cm on the map is equivalent to 10,000cm in real life. It could also mean that 1 metre on this map is equivalent to 10,000 metres (although you would have to have quite a large map)!
Gridreferences are squares in a map that form a grid. There are 2 types of gridreferences: 4figuregridreference and 6figuregridreference. 4figuregird references are very basic. 6figuregridreferences are more complex and there are 100 6figuregridreference boxes in a 4figuregridreference box. Grid references are used in large scale maps. You know which gridreference each square is by looking at the bottom left corner of the square. Lets look at some examples:
Question: Which square number is the information point in?
Solution: Firstly, we find the information point and the square it's in. Then, go to the bottom left corner of the square. Find the number that shows how far along the grid it is (in this case: 47) These numbers are known as Eastings. Finally, find the number which tells you how far up the square is (in this case: 33). These numbers are known as Northings. Merge the two numbers together and the gridreference for the square with the information point in is: 4733.
Solution: Firstly, we find the information point and the square it's in. Then, go to the bottom left corner of the square. Find the number that shows how far along the grid it is (in this case: 47) These numbers are known as Eastings. Finally, find the number which tells you how far up the square is (in this case: 33). These numbers are known as Northings. Merge the two numbers together and the gridreference for the square with the information point in is: 4733.
Question: Which grid number is the red circle on?
Solution: Firstly, we find the circle and the square it's in. Then, go to the bottom left corner of the square. Find the Northing of the square; when it comes to 6figuregridreferencing, we find the Easting of the 4figuregridreference (in this case: 25). We then find the Easting of the designated square (in this case: 7). We then put together 25 with 7: 257 (this is the first half done). We then do the same to the Northings; which leaves us with 257 and 522. We then put these two figures together. So that the gridreference of the square with the circle in is: 257522.
Solution: Firstly, we find the circle and the square it's in. Then, go to the bottom left corner of the square. Find the Northing of the square; when it comes to 6figuregridreferencing, we find the Easting of the 4figuregridreference (in this case: 25). We then find the Easting of the designated square (in this case: 7). We then put together 25 with 7: 257 (this is the first half done). We then do the same to the Northings; which leaves us with 257 and 522. We then put these two figures together. So that the gridreference of the square with the circle in is: 257522.
Contour lines are lines drawn on some maps which tell you how high on the ground a certain area is (the elevation). Contour lines are usually measured in every 10 metres (or every 100 metres if very mountainous). Below is a drawing of contour lines (hopefully this drawing will make more sense to you):
Mapzone is a fun way to learn and practise map skills.