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The World at Your Fingertips
Oxford Atlas of the World
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.
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.
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.
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.
Published in Sources, Number 44, Summer 1999.