Do You Know What the Symbols of a Map Legend Mean?

By: Olivia C
Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

In this day and age, map reading skills have become necessary in our daily living.

We are always surrounded by many things in our immediate environment. Going from point A to point B is sometimes a tedious task, especially for those people who claim they are "bad with directions." That's well and good now, since there are many devices and tools that help them cope with today's information-driven world. And one such tool is creating friendly maps that are easy to follow.

The invention of the GPS allows motorists to have the flexibility of navigating their travels. But the GPS is also a map-based system. Do you know the different map symbols that you may encounter in reading this system?

The same is true for looking up something in apps like Google Maps. While it's easier to search for places by typing the words on the search box, the map is still peppered with age-tested symbols that average map readers should be familiar with by now. 

So, do you think you could name some -- if not all -- of these map symbols, common to many kinds of maps these days? Then this quiz will be a cinch for you! Go dive in, then! 

Good luck!

A star in a map usually means that the place it is identifying is the capital. It could be the country capital or the provincial capital, depending on what kind of area map you're reading.

If the stars identify the capital cities, the other notable big cities are usually identified using heavy dots on a map. That way, it's easier to spot them.

This restroom map symbol is universal in any place in the world. But it could just be called by other terms, depending on the region of the world you are visiting.

The green areas in a topographical map identify the vegetation. It could be lush greenery, or just plain meadowlands.

The airport map symbol is easy enough to understand, even for first-time travelers. That's usually the main port of departure or entry.

This symbol is universal enough to understand around the world. It stands for hospital.

Railroad symbols should be noted clearly on a map so motorists can anticipate them during their travels.

Bodies of water, no matter what kind, are denoted by blue colored areas on a topographical map. Even the depth of the water is sometimes defined according to the deeper shading of blue on the map.

The hotel or lodging symbol on a map is fairly universal, making it easier for tourists to find a place to rest for the night.

Museums are an important map symbol to look for on a tourist map.

Road trips should be planned and prepared ahead of time. Marking where these gas or petrol stations are in your path ensures you won't be stranded.

Restaurants and other kinds of eating places are usually symbolized by this spoon-and-fork map symbol. Cafes, on the other hand, could be specifically identified using a cup symbol, like in Google Maps.

A subway or railway station is usually color-coded on a map. This is helpful for a city with many subways​ or railway lines, especially those that intersect each other or share a common platform.

National highways are mapped out with thick, heavy lines in given areas. Some of them intersect others.

It's sometimes important to mark where schools are in a given area. This symbol will help you locate one on a map.

Skiing area map symbols are fairly easy to spot. But it may be an alien symbol for people living in the tropics.

This symbol points out where the picnic areas or picnic grounds are located in a given space. Picnic lovers know this all too well.

A golf course symbol on a map is useful for golfers.

The bus station or bus stop map symbol is fairly common around the globe. City maps are full of them!

Bridge symbols should also be noted by motorists driving toward unfamiliar places. They may not know that such bridges may not be crossable during certain seasons.

Even if most people have cellphones these days, it's still good to note areas where you can find landline phones.

To know which places to see, travelers mark tourist spots or areas of interests on a map. These are usually symbolized by this camera map symbol, or variations thereof.

A marina is usually symbolized by this anchor-like image on a map. This is where you'll see small boats docked in a nice-looking harbor.

Some maps now include the universal PWD access symbol. That way, people with disabilities, especially those in wheelchairs, know where they can have easier access to certain areas.

If national or major highways are marked by heavy lines on a map, the usually thinner lines that run parallel or intersect with these highways symbolize roads. Some maps don't delineate major roads from alleys, though, and draw them the same.

Bicycle lanes are also mapped out clearly on a map. This gives bikers an easier way to spot them.

The building with a cross symbol usually means that it's a church. If the building has a crescent moon, then it's a mosque.

Campground map icons are helpful for those who love to go camping. Hikers should also take note of this.

Nature trail map symbols are easy to understand for trekkers, hikers, and mountain climbers. But the average urban-focused person may not be familiar with it.

Fishing area map symbols are quite easy to understand for anyone who sees them.

Mountainous areas are usually drawn with triangular pointy images on a map. Simplified maps usually use dark-shaded triangles to denote a mountain range.

When you see clumps of tree images on a map, that means it's a forest area.

The post office symbol is still good to note for travelers who like mailing postcards. Yes, in the age of email, they still exist!

Certified scuba divers look for this map symbol. There are also marks or symbols for wrecks where divers could happily explore.

A sailing area map symbol is useful for water sports enthusiasts. Sailing is life, for them!

For those who have sensitive health issues, spotting this map symbol is necessary. This points them to where they could have access to safe drinking water in an unfamiliar place.

A map usually shows the compass rose, where the north-south-east-west directions of a map are​ denoted. Check this first, before anything else.

A parking area map symbol is useful for motorists. They just need to know if the parking area is free or if it has a fee.

WiFi access symbols have been necessary additions to map makers. Many travelers are always looking for areas where they can go online.

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