The World at Your Fingertips
Canadian Oxford World Atlas
Quentin H. Stanford, General Editor
Oxford University Press
1998, 220 pp, $29.95, ISBN 0-19-541319-9
Oxford Atlas of the World
Oxford University Press
1998, xxx pp, $75.00, ISBN 0-19-521464-1
Reviewed by Nicole Redman
When I was a young child I would borrow my aunt's old dog-eared
atlas and seek out new places to visit in my mind. Although it was
filled with gray and pastels, an abundance of travel fantasies and
childhood games came out of the places my cousins and I invented
sifting through that book. The Canadian Oxford World Atlas
also contains fodder for creative minds and a wealth of information.
To start you off on the right leg on your world journey there is
a World Time Zone Map on both the inside front and back covers.
The Table of Contents is very helpful with abundant detail.
There is also an extremely useful section about "Understanding
Topographic Maps" on page 4. This provides information on the
common symbols found on the different maps in the Atlas. There are
also explanatory ages on Latitude, Longitude, and Scale; Direction
and Satellite Imagery.
When providing information on Canada, this Atlas lives up to its
title. There are Canada-specific maps pertaining on, for example,
Endangered Species and Protected Lands, Water Resources and Electrical
Power; Native Peoples, Eastern Exploration, Arctic and Western Exploration,
Territorial Evolution and many others.
Most of these maps contain relevant information. The Territorial
Evolution Map contains no projection of the recent addition of the
Territory of Nunavut. I am not sure what kind of information can
be gleamed from the rather ambiguous Political Division Map.
The maps of various provinces are accompanied by small corner legends
for land height, boundaries, city and town symbols. There are also
handy statistics on census population and gross domestic product
in the top right corner.
Unfortunately equal attention is not paid to all provinces. The
Atlantic Provinces and Northern Canada are dumped on a two-page
spread each. Of course Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal
get their own half page map.
For maps of the United States, Oxford decided to include maps of
the North East United States, California and a two-page general
United States map. Why did Oxford pick these locations? It is not
clear why these particular areas warranted extra attention.
The other continents are just shown in maps by continent focusing
on climate, land use, population and communications. Few countries
apart from Canada and the United States get a map to themselves
and that is a bit of an annoyance.
There are also global maps focusing on a wide variety of subjects,
including maps on timely issues such as Environmental Damage, Global
Warming, Atmospheric Pollutants, Fresh Water and Protected Areas,
Nuclear and Armaments, Population, and Changing Quality of Life.
There is a 39-page index which gives you the alternate spelling,
country, page number, grid code, latitude & longitude of the
location you are seeking.
After the Index, the final 33 pages are statistics from Statistics
Canada on just about everything you want to know about Canada's
geography and population. The statistics are displayed in colorful
grids that make them easy to read. There are also a few statistics
on world population, expenditures and growth.
What I really like about this atlas is its versatility. The junior
high student writing an essay can use it as well as the university
major who will be able to make great use of its statistics and focus
on current global issues.
For atlas enthusiasts, the Oxford Atlas of the World, Sixth
Edition is an extraordinary coffee-table size book with something
for everyone with a geographical inclination.
This atlas is remarkably well-designed and uses colours masterfully
which makes it enjoyable to use. There is a great 48-page Introduction
to World Geography section which explores current topics such as
international conflicts, crime rates, education, economic issues,
and energy consumption and alternative energy sources.
There are 66 city maps from Nairobi and Toronto to Oslo and Tokyo,
blueprints of the bubbling urban centres of the world. This is in
addition to a 176-page section of incredible, full-colour world
maps. These world maps give details on political and topographical
information on every country in the world and are enhanced by relief
shading and layered contours.
In addition to up-to-date information on latest place names around
the world, there are population and immigration figures for the
United States The main drawback of this atlas is that it is very
U.S.-focused. It would be interesting for once to see a "World
Atlas" which gives space to detailed maps of countries other
than the United States.
The very comprehensive index has about 75,000 entries which includes
geographical features as well as cities and towns, with full latitude
and longitude coordinates.
The Oxford Atlas of the World retails for about $75.00 and
is most definitely worth it.
Nicole Redman is Production Co-ordinator for Parliamentary
Names & Numbers.
Published in Sources,
Number 44, Summer 1999.
Index of Book
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