Oxford's Ever-Changing 'Atlas of the World'

Oxford's Satellite Map of Miami i

One of many satellite images in the 'Oxford Atlas,' this one of Miami, Florida, shows the startlingly different types of land use in the area, from the rectangular-shaped citrus groves (left) to the urban "gold coast" (right). Oxford Press hide caption

itoggle caption Oxford Press
Oxford's Satellite Map of Miami

One of many satellite images in the 'Oxford Atlas,' this one of Miami, Florida, shows the startlingly different types of land use in the area, from the rectangular-shaped citrus groves (left) to the urban "gold coast" (right).

Oxford Press
Oxford's Map of South Africa

Of the tens of thousands of place names in Oxford's Atlas, many require updating. For instance, Pretoria, South Africa, recently changed its name to Ishwane. Oxford Press hide caption

itoggle caption Oxford Press

With the Polar Ice Cap melting and geopolitical boundaries still shifting, cartography is a painfully ephemeral undertaking. Undeterred, the mapmakers at the Oxford Press have produced a vivid new edition of the Atlas of the World.

At least from afar, the mapmakers' world is a beautiful place. Their 560-plus-page Atlas includes all the typical maps of continents, countries, states and cities. But it also includes expansive photographs from space, including richly detailed images of the world's great deserts, metropolitan areas and vast expanses of water.

In the age of the World Wide Web, atlas-making is a dying art, and the Oxford Atlas is the only print version still updated annually. Ben Keene, the editor of the newest edition, discusses mapmaking in the computer age with John Ydstie.

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