Every systematic application specific collection of maps with uniform formal structure and design is termed an atlas after a book collection of world maps by the German Dutch cartographer Gerardus Mercator more than four centuries ago. Since Mercator's time the term atlas implies not only a specific map content, a system of map models based on a common narrative, but also the presentation medium, a map product in book form or paper maps assembled in a map case. The change to computerassisted map construction and production brought about increasing numbers of electronic atlases to be designed and developed for on screen use. Characteristic of any electronic presentation is the screen map allowing the user to interact with the map graphic in various ways. When linked with a geographic database, electronic atlases offer extensive interaction and manipulation features of their graphic and nongraphic components. Atlases and their maps, regardless of the presentation medium, offer functions for viewing, data exploring, and knowledge acquisition of a certain geographic area or theme. As maps are a medium of communication or language, atlases can be regarded as essays in communication.

Historical Background

Types of Atlases

Dissemination Medium

Atlas Information Systems