National Geographic Education
National Geographic - Education


MapMaker Interactive

Explore your world with map themes, data, and tools for customizing your map


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Welcome to the MapMaker Interactive

This tutorial explains how to explore National Geographic Education's interactive GIS mapping tool and tools for customizing outline maps for print.


Use the zoom bar to go from a world view to a local view (or in cartographic terms, from a large scale to a small scale). If you zoom out to a world view, you will see that the map is in a Mercator projection.

region menus

Use the location menus at the top to zoom from a world view to a continent, country, or other region.


Identify your geographic position on the map using the latitude and longitude display at the bottom left. The latitude and longitude values change as you pan around the map.


Switch between different styles of base maps including a custom layer from National Geographic, satellite, terrain, and topographic views.

outline map

Using the 1-Page base map, click on a continent, country, or state to load the corresponding MapMaker 1-Page map.

outline map

You can customize and download your 1-Page map, or go back to the interactive map to explore more.


The tabs on the left offer different tools for working with the map: themes, drawing tools, and markers. Open and close the tabs by clicking the arrows.


Open the Themes tab to explore a collection of map data layers.

map key

When you are viewing a map layer, click on the information icon to view the map legend.


Use the transparency scroll bar to change the transparency of map layers. This is a useful tool when you are viewing more than one layer at a time and want to explore relationships between layers.

unavailable layers

Notice that not all layers can be viewed at every zoom level. Some map layers will become unavailable when you zoom in to a large scale.

drawing tools

Use the Drawing Tools tab to access tools that allow you to draw lines and shapes and add labels to your map.


Use the Markers tab to find markers that you can drag and drop on the map. You can adjust the marker size to meet your needs.

measure tool

The measure tool lets you measure distances on the map in either miles or kilometers. Select the tool, click once on the map and move your mouse. Click again and the distance value will appear along your line segment. Keep clicking and panning to measure additional segments and the total distance will display at the end of your line, by the cursor. Double-click to finish and select the arrow tool when you are done measuring.

full screen

Click on the the icon at the bottom right to view the interactive map in full-screen mode.

pop-out mode

Or click the other icon to see the map in a new web browser window.

share tools

The share tools above the map let you email, link, print, or share any map you create.


You can download your map as either an image file to include in a report or presentation or as an XML file that you can re-open. The XML file type is helpful if you are creating a custom map and want to come back to it to work on later.

re-open 1

To re-open a map that you save as an XML file, click Re-Open a Map

re-open 2

Then find the saved file on your computer, select, and open. Now you can continue working on your map.

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Now go explore the map to fine tune your skills as a geographer!

Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of the National Geographic Society. Map images are modular and downloadable. For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service.

MapMaker 1-Page Maps

Looking for downloadable, black-and-white maps of the world, continents, countries and states? Try our MapMaker 1-Page Maps. Below is a selection to get started with. Or, view them all.