The 10 Best atlases

Whether you're looking for maps to inspire, educate or entertain, this selection will bring the world to you

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The Independent Culture

{1} Usborne Picture Atlas

Geography: children can find it boring, right? Well, not if they have this picture atlas, which takes readers on a cartoon-illustrated tour of the world, cramming lots of child-friendly facts on the thematically organised pages.


{2} The Penguin State of the World Atlas

The eighth edition (the ninth is out in November) of Penguin's atlas pairs the usual geographical information with details on global trends, so things such as ageing rate, energy consumption, literacy gender equalities, war and peacekeeping.



{3} Dorling Kindersley Traveller's Atlas

From dolphin swimming to temple visiting, you'll find a treasure trove of inspiration for your next trip with this sumptuously photo-illustrated atlas which is replete with travel information.



{4} The Great Atlas of the Sky

Instead of looking down to Earth, this atlas looks in the opposite direction – to the stars. The huge book is just about the fullest guide to all the planets, stars and astronomical objects you're likely to find. Its 150 glossy, folded maps are simply beautiful.



{5} The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt

Gargantuan pyramids, quizzical sphinxes and a polytheistic religion, the world of ancient Egypt is manna from heaven for inquisitive children (or, for that matter, inquisitive adults), so sate them with this illustrated trek through the 5,000-year arc of the Nile kingdom's history.



{6} National Geographic Ipad App

Unlike most other apps this is rendered in HD, so the three styles of map you can choose from are in pin-clear detail. You can zoom in from continent level to close enough to see your own house.



{7} Political Atlas of the Modern World

Wiley's atlas provides a comparative study of the political systems of all 192 of the world's states. There's everything from a quality-of-life index to a measure of the threats each country faces.



{8} the Times Atlas of the World

After pulping an edition in October last year after inaccurately rendering Greenland's ice sheet, The Times Atlas is back at the top of the atlas tree with 125 colour maps containing almost a quarter of a million place names in the newest edition. You'll be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive and up-to-date mapping of the world anywhere.



{9} A World Map app Jaja & Co

Wouldn't it be nice to have an atlas you can keep in your pocket? Well, that's exactly what you can do with this iPhone app. It isn't the most comprehensive atlas in the world but it does have some useful features such as a Time Zone view.



{10} Atlas, Schmatlas

One for the grown ups, this atlas is amusing and absurd while also being informative. It's a riot of adult humour, highly coloured maps, graphs, illustrations and cartoonesque information.