This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which world maps are best?

Whether you’re full of wanderlust, a geography nerd or just love the beautiful aesthetics, there’s a world map for you. There is a huge array of world map types, from political and historical to climate maps. World maps can be anything from small poster-sized or large portrait maps to maps you can doodle on. There also are special types such as scratch-off world maps. For more information, check out the world map buying guide from BestReviews.

For those looking for the best of the more classic type of world map, look no further than the Rand McNally 32” x 50” Classic United States and World Map Set. This world map also includes a United States map, and the design and quality are of the highest caliber.

What to know before you buy a world map

Types of world maps

  • Political maps: This world map type focuses on displaying the borders, towns and cities of the world. It doesn’t include topography. These maps can become out of date as borders and names change.
  • Economic maps: This world map type uses color to inform on the population and resources of countries as well as other types of economic information.
  • Physical maps: Otherwise known as a topographical map, this type of world map represents the natural features of the world, such as bodies of water, elevation and landscapes, using shading, relief and contour lines.
  • Climate maps: Similar to economic maps, this world map type uses color to convey climate information such as if the area is arid, tropical, tundratic or otherwise.
  • Historical maps: This category of world map is more accurately broken down into subtypes. Some of those types include vintage-designed current maps and maps accurate from information known during a certain era.
  • Artistic maps: This is a less informative but more decorative world map. These can look like anything, depending on the artist, but the trade-off for aesthetics is they’re usually a little inaccurate.
  • Children’s maps: A more visual type of map than most, children’s maps are meant to stimulate the attention of children and help teach them about geography.
  • Interactive maps: These types of world maps are highly varied. They can be scratch-offs, dry erase for classrooms or any other method of interactivity.

What to look for in a quality world map

Map information

For most world maps of any type, there is common basic information on them. These usually include the date the map was created, a compass for orientation, names of places and a legend to decipher specific symbols.

Map size

Depending on the location you want to place the world map or what you intend to use it for, pick a map with the appropriate size. World maps are almost any size, from 1.5 feet long to massive mural-sized maps that take up an entire wall.

Laminated vs. framed world maps

There are a few methods to improve durability, from laminating the material to placing your world map in a sealed frame.

How much you can expect to spend on a world map

A world map costs from $25 to more than $200. Most world maps fall in the $50-$100 range.

World map FAQ

What does scale mean in a world map?

A. On a world map, scale relates the difference between distances on the map and in the real world. For example, if your world map is 1:1,000,000,000, then 1 inch on the map is equal to almost 16,000 miles.

Why does Greenland look so big on one world map and so small on another?

A. World map designers are forced to distort their representation of Earth to create a two-dimensional version of Earth’s 3D sphere. This is known as a geographical projection method. Each one makes different concessions during the dimensional translation, which is why Greenland can look so different on different maps.

Which world map should I get?

Top world map

Rand McNally 32” x 50” Classic United States and World Map Set

Rand McNally 32” x 50” Classic United States and World Map Set

What you need to know: This two-map set from Rand McNally is of the highest quality and the extra United States map makes this a complementary duo.

What you’ll love: Bright and vivid colors make this world map visually appealing. Names are clear and largely labeled.

What you should consider: The material for this world map is rather thin and prone to tears and creasing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top world map for the money

Swiftmaps 36” x 24” World Classic Elite Map

Swiftmaps 36” x 24” World Classic Elite Map

What you need to know: This affordable world map doesn’t sacrifice durability or practicality, making it a great value buy.

What you’ll love: The laminated paper allows you to use dry-erase markers to make notes or decorate this poster-sized world map.

What you should consider: This world map can miss some minor details, although that rarely happens.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Landmass Goods 17” x 21” Scratch-Off Map of the World

Landmass Goods 17” x 21” Scratch-Off Map of the World

What you need to know: This map is a scratch-off, which lets you change the uniform blackness into vibrant colors whenever you want.

What you’ll love: The world map isn’t the only scratch-off part; each country’s flag also is a scratch-off below the map.

What you should consider: This world map is a bit on the small side and because it’s a scratch-off, it isn’t laminated for longevity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.