What Is a Political Map?

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12351

When you look at a map, what do you expect to find? You usually like to know where you are or where some one or thing or place is. That's when a political map comes in handy, and you'll make your own!


Government, World

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Look at the maps pictured below. Which do you think is a political map?

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Now that you have seen what a political map looks like, write down at least three characteristics that made the political map different from the other maps shown above.

Share your list with your teacher or parent.

You probably noticed the political map outlined each country on the map. A political map shows governmental boundaries of countries, states, and counties. That means on a world or continent map, the different countries are outlined. It does not matter whether or not the countries are labeled. Sometimes, the countries will be all the same color, like in the political map of the world shown above. Sometimes, they will be different colors, like this political map of North America:

political map of North America

Political maps may show just one country and show boundaries of states, cities, and territories. The image below shows a political map of the United States:

political map of the United States

Political maps can be refined further by just focusing on a state or region. On these political maps, the counties are outlined. The political map below outlines all of the counties in the state of Georgia:

Georgia County Map

The most important thing about political maps is that they outline the boundaries of different countries, states, and counties as they are defined by the government. Political maps may include some of the following features, but they are not required:

  • countries, states, or counties labeled
  • major cities labeled
  • oceans or other bodies of water

To review what you have learned about political maps, you will watch a short video. As you watch Maps of the World: Physical and Political Maps (Part 1) | Kids Videos, by Creators365, make a list of all the characteristics that make a political map:

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When you have finished watching the video, discuss the following questions with your teacher or parent:

  • Why are political maps important?
  • What would a political map of your country or state look like?
  • How can a political map help you?

When you are finished discussing the questions, move on to the Got It? section to see if you can identify political maps.

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