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Thematic Map Types

Maps come in all different shapes and sizes, and they can be visualized with several different techniques. One way of exploring the various representations of spatial data is by thematic map type. Thematic maps highlight attributes or statistics about regions to help users explore relationships and patterns that exist across geographical areas. From visualizing unemployment rates by state, to the location and magnitude of earthquakes over the last ten years, to exploring the heights of buildings across a city - the type of thematic map visualization depends on the type of data, granularity, and type of analysis that is being employed.

Throughout this lesson, we will explore the different thematic maps types including choropleth maps, proportional and graduated symbol maps, heatmaps, dot density maps, and 3D extrusions. For each map type, we will cover the characteristics and appropriate data usage. Lastly, you will have the opportunity to practice creating each thematic map type using Mapbox Studio.


  • Identify 5 different mapping types
  • Describe the characteristics and appropriate use of each map type
  • Use Mapbox Studio to design and develop 3 of the map types learned in this lesson
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