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Topographic maps: Tools for planning

January 1, 1980

Topographic maps are a detailed record of a land area, giving geographic positions and elevations for both natural and man-made features. They show the shape of the land the mountains, valleys, and plains by means of brown contour lines (lines of equal elevation above sea level). In steep mountainous areas, contours are closely spaced; in flatter areas, they are far apart. The elevation of any point on the map can be estimated by referring to the elevations of the contour lines above and below it.