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Atlas (cartography)

An atlas is a collection of maps, traditionally bound into book form, but also on CD-ROM. As well as geographic features and political boundaries, many often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics. The name "atlas" derives from the custom of adorning the cover or title page of such collections with a picture of the Atlas of Greek mythology holding the Earth on his shoulders.

This usage of the term dates from Gerardus Mercator's Atlas Sive Cosmographicae (Atlas, or Description of the Universe) of 1585-1595. The earliest atlas was Ptolemy's Geography of c. 150 CE. The first modern atlas was issued by Abraham Ortelius on May 20, 1570.

Comprehensive atlases include:

See also: