Review: Hammond World Almanac 2006 World Atlas

Publisher: Hammond World Atlas CorporationISBN: 0843709375

The Hammond World Atlas Corporation has teamed up with the bestselling World Almanac and Book of Facts in putting together a superb and educational publication, Hammond World Almanac 2006 World Atlas.

You can probably call this Almanac the bible for world class cartography and data with its 200 pages of facts and figures about people, ethnic groups, languages, religions, area, capital, GDP, head of state, and governments. And then there are the 100 pages of digital TerraScape Maps that feature three dimensional relief of land and ocean floor terrain.

When I looked at the "Contents" section of the Almanac, I was delighted to see that there is a section pertaining to the interpretation of maps. How often have you looked at a map and you haven't a clue as to what all the symbols mean or the map scales and projections?

In clear and precise language the authors of this publication explain what are map projections and explore some of the most widely used projections. They also introduce us to a new projection, the Hammond Optimal Conformal.

For those of us who are unfamiliar with the term map projection, we are informed that the challenge faced by mapmakers is to project the earth's curved surface onto a flat plane. Consequently, to accomplish this feat, cartographers have developed map projections or formulas that govern this conversion of geographic data. It is possible to identify every point on earth with the help of a geographic coordinate grid, and this grid is projected onto a flat surface.

From this starting point we are given explanations of general principles and terms, how to flatten a sphere, selected examples of projections, conic projection and the Hammond Optimal Conformal.

This initial section is followed with a comprehensive explanation as to how to use the map section. It is here where we find out how boundaries are determined, sources of names, map symbols, colors, labels and map scales.

Armed with all this introductory data we are now prepared to examine the world maps starting with the Europe and Northern Asia and then Asia, Australia and Pacific, Africa, Antarctica, South America, and North America. On the bottom of each map there are color codes differentiating the population of the various cities and towns. There is also a mileage scale denoted in either miles or kilometers. Detailed and comparative thematic maps, tables, graphs pertaining to each continent, topography, population, land use, mineral resources and consumption are also included.

The concluding section or the World Almanac Section presents key facts and figures concerning every nation such as their rankings by population and area, major oceans, ocean depths, and islands, rivers, waterfalls, continental altitudes, lakes, reservoirs, dams, highest mountains, temperatures, top languages, precipitation, population growth, energy and environment.

Examining facts and figures about a particular nation we notice that what is included is the following: topography, capital city, independence date, type of government, who is the head of state and head of government, GDP, industries, chief crops, minerals, life expectancy at birth, literacy rate and a link to the country's web site.

This almanac is a magnificent achievement to be savored and repeatedly enjoyed. It fills an educational niche and is a perfect addition for libraries, classrooms, and personal book collections, where vital geographical data is at your finger tips.

The above review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN Editor of Bookpleasures. CLICK TO VIEW MORE OF Norm Goldman's Reviews