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National Geographic World Atlas

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


National Geographic World Atlas

National Geographic World Atlas, 9th Edition, 2010

National Geographic Society

The Bottom Line

Overall, I highly recommend this atlas. It is an excellent reference for our planet and even our solar system. It gives the Times Atlas of the World a run for its money.
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  • A beautiful, detailed, and up-to-date atlas.
  • Covers critical areas of the world in great detail.


  • The paper used for the map pages is a little too thin so one has to handle the atlas carefully.
  • Is a little skimpy on its coverage of Africa, the continent with the most countries.


  • 19 inches high by 12.7 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick
  • 424 pages
  • Over 150,000 entries in the 142-page gazetteer, 10,000 more than the 8th edition
  • Published October 19, 2010
  • 10.1 pounds in weight
  • White cover with white slipcase
  • 20 thematic spreads (population, urbanization, health, human rights, climate change, etc.)
  • New Oceans section and expanded Space section
  • Includes two antique-style wall maps of the Eastern and Western hemispheres

Guide Review - National Geographic World Atlas

It's been six years since the 8th edition of the National Geographic World Atlas was published. This new edition is absolutely gorgeous, from the clear, color-coded index in the front to the legible-sized font in the gazetteer in the back.

The maps are typical National Geographic style, with their comfortable color scheme of colorfully marking the country boundaries but keeping the interior of the geographic area as black text on a white background. The Winkel Tripel Projection, the standard for National Geographic since 1998, is used on every map of the planet (which are centered on the Prime Meridian).

A lengthy thematic map section in the front of the atlas covers such topics as population density and growth, life expectancy, urbanization, health, migration, plate tectonics, Koppen climate zones, transportation, energy, and more.

North America, the first regional section of the atlas is the most extensive, with 23 plates devoted to the region from Canada through Panama. Africa, on the other hand, only contains six plates. The section of ocean maps (five plates) is new to this atlas and the space section (seven plates) is based on new imagery from the Hubble Telescope.

Physical and political maps of the region introduce the region, followed by detailed maps of sub-regions. The ocean section is especially stunning with black continents surrounding crisp blue maps of the ocean floors. The space section includes star charts, moon maps, Mars maps.

Pleasantly surprising are the two page spread of Greenland, a two-page spread of Alaska and Hawaii (each separately!), two pages of the Amazon basin, an independent Kosovo, individual detailed maps of Europe's smallest countries, a two-page spread of the Levant, two pages of the Caucasus (with Abkhazia, South Osssetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh shaded in and using the same font as the West Bank and Gaza).

Preceding the gazetteer is an alphabetical almanac of independent countries and major world territories. Each entry includes basic statistics and a short history. Also included on each two-page spread is a locator map for all the entities mentioned on the page with page number references to more detailed maps. It's a wonderful feature!

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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