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Revision as of 22:55, 22 February 2011

Example regions map

See Wikitravel:How to draw a map to see how to get started creating maps in Inskcape

The Regions Map Expedition is a Wikitravel Expedition to promote and coordinate collaboration to improve the quality of the organization of Wikitravel content by creating regions maps for region and country articles,

If you'd like to join the effort, please add your signature to the section below!



Wiki articles, perhaps surprisingly, develop over time into something coherent, most often without any systematic management. Unfortunately, content organization does not. The Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy is an ideal way to organize Wikitravel destination guides, but the organic process that lends itself well to travel writing does not always work so well for the subdivision of our region articles. Ad hoc subdivisions often overlap, and even serious efforts to subdivide regions can fall afoul of the complexity of the task.

Regions maps (like, for example, this one) solve the problems inherent in dividing geographical units. They make clear to readers and contributors where the exact boundaries of regions fall, and crucially, they help us avoid the problem of overlap.


The main goal of the Regions Map Expedition is to create regions maps for all articles that have subregions. In pursuit of this goal we will:

  1. Identify high-priority regions maps that need to be created
  2. Identify which articles still need regions maps
  3. Link good source material for creating regions maps
  4. Assist interested users in learning how to create regions maps (If you're looking for help, ask on an expedition member's talk page.)

Achieving this goal will not happen any time soon, so we have a more narrow current focus: to finish creating regions maps for all articles within specific categories of articles that already have a significant amount of regions maps created (e.g., U.S. states). If there is a category of articles you would like to add to the lists below, please bring it up on the talk page.

A secondary goal of the Expedition is to encourage the development of standards in regions maps. In pursuit of this goal we should:

  1. Continue experimenting with regions maps, to develop higher standards
  2. Discuss here what standards we think we should encourage
  3. Eventually develop a section at Wikitravel:How to draw a map that explains precisely how to go about creating a regions map.

Expedition members

Template items explained


To keep our maps somewhat similar, it's necessary that we use similar colors and icons. Hence this template. The template contains the items explained on the right, all in one layer in a simple svg file. To use it in a new map (or an existing one), just import it to the desired svg, under a layer of your choosing

Source files

All of our maps will need to come from somewhere, so you'll need to find a base bitmap or SVG image from which to create the Wikitravel-style map. The best source of maps in the Public Domain is the Perry Castañeda Collection [1] of maps created by the U.S. Government (mostly by the CIA).

Wikimedia Commons also has a wealth maps in the Public Domain and under other CC-compatible licenses, all of them conveniently sorted into categories, e.g., wmc:Category:Maps of Taiwan. Many of the maps available on Commons are already in SVG form, saving our mapmakers some tracing work.

The other very useful site to keep in mind is OpenStreetMap [2], which can provide great base bitmaps and SVGs (using the site's export function—choose Mapnik → SVG), particularly for smaller regions.

UN maps [3] are exceptionally helpful for country maps, as you can import their pdf files directly into Inkscape, which will convert the map to SVG form! Much of the map will be borderline useless, especially all text, but this is a great way to get a free country outline + roads, rail, and lakes/rivers without having to do any tracing. It's easiest to find (ctrl+f) the paths you want to save (identify them by style from the XML editor (ctrl+x)) and move them to a separate layer. When done moving the useful paths, delete the original layer.


Standards are being developed and are under discussion. This is a draft, and will likely change over time as our discussions progress.


Standard layers (note, this image licensed under GNU FDL!)
  • Frame
  • Key (other labels)
  • Region names
  • City/other destination names
  • Transportation labels
  • Transportation (roads, railroads, hiking trails, major camel routes, etc.)
  • Geography (lakes, rivers, parklands, etc.)
  • Cities/Other destinations
  • Regions (colored)
  • Foreground (undivided region image, oceans, bordering countries, etc.)
  • Background

Color scheme/patterns

Different maps will have different needs, but the basic 11-color palette on the Regions Map Template works pretty well. For maps with a lot of detail, however, lower saturation colors may be necessary. See discussion for ideas.


  • Use the DejaVu Sans Compact font on all maps. DejaVu Sans Compact italic, bold, and bold italic are fine too, to show different classes of labels. This is important not just for consistency—the DejaVu font family is very easy to translate into different alphabets.

Route icons

It is always nice to include official route shields on maps. Below is a collection of editable collections of the most basic route shields by country:

  • USA (interstates and US-highways)

Note: to find route shields not available here, check Wikitravel:Route icons. When you find them, please create a basic svg collection and link it here!

Ease of translation

A major goal here is that the maps we create be easy to translate into other languages. To do so:

  • Keep text together within sublayers. E.g., if you are using a "city names" layer, create a sublayer "en", which will contain all the English language text. This makes it easy for a translator to add another language sublayer (like "es" for Spanish), duplicate the text in your "en" sublayer and raise it to the "es" sublayer of "city names". This keeps translated info easy to manage, and all on one SVG—we can export PNG map images from that one SVG for each language by turning off the irrelevant language layers and enabling the relevant ones.
  • Limit the number of layers containing text. If text is spread out across loads of layers, it becomes difficult to switch between languages. Also try to keep the text layers next to each other, so that would-be translators don't have to "fish around" to find the necessary text layers.
  • For translators: Don't create separate SVGs for different language versions! This makes non-textual updates to our maps near impossible across language versions (as it would require a separate update of every single SVG file, rather than one). Instead, create sublayers for your language version of each layer containing text, select those, de-select the English layers, and export a PNG file for use in-article.

What to include

A "star-quality" regions map will include all of the following, but anything is far better than nothing! Don't be intimidated by all the guidelines—plunge forward and try creating a map with just the regions and major cities shown; consider whether you want to go further along these guidelines afterward.

  • Key — map name, compass, scale
  • Region boundaries — first and foremost, regions maps should clearly define regional boundaries. It's often useful to show subregions in some manner, to indicate of what the regions are comprised.
  • Linked cities and other destinations — in the region/country article, there should be nine cities and nine other destinations linked. Place these on the map, and label them with text. If you deem it worthwhile, add other cities and other destinations as you see fit for context, but don't include ridiculously long lists of destinations. If the article in question has 30 linked "other destinations," that means it is in violation of policy—leave the other destinations off until the article has been cleaned up.
  • Major modes of transportation between linked destinations — the major highways, railroads, waterways, or what have you that most travelers use to get between the 9 linked cities & 9 linked other destinations.
  • Bordering regions/countries
  • Geography — relevant parklands, rivers, bodies of water, desert, beaches, etc.

Use Template:Regionlist

We recommend mapmakers add the regionlist template to articles containing a regions map, to automatically display regions and their corresponding map colors in a standard format. To see how the template is used, and how the syntax works, check the Africa page for an example. If you have any questions regarding how to use this template, please feel free to ask an expedition member.

Articles lacking regions maps

Below is a quick list of regions currently lack region maps. Especially egregious examples are bolded.

If you are working on one, please add your name (~~~~) to the country/state you are working on, to let others know someone's taking care of it!

If you come across a good map base, that is, a good source for tracing that is compatible with our Copyleft, please add a link to it next to the article title below.

Countries (by continental section)

Central America



European countries




Destination Docents

In other languages