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Using Cartograms to Learn About Latin American Demographics

Subject:Social Sciences, Math,
Language Arts, Ed. Technology
Grade:6-8, 9-12

Brief Description
Students create cartograms,special-purpose maps to illustrate features other than area, showing populations and gross domestic product (GDP) of countries in the Western Hemisphere.



  • learn the meaning and importance of several geographic terms, including special-purpose map, cartogram, gross domestic product (GDP), and per capita GDP;
  • understand the importance of the physical environment on economic development and standards of living of a country;
  • understand the interrelationship of the physical, social, cultural, and economic geography of countries and regions;
  • learn to apply math skills to transfer numerical data to a graphical representation on a cartogram;
  • learn to analyze information and infer explanations for discrepancies on two special-purpose maps.


Latin America, Western Hemisphere, cartogram, map, population, gross domestic product (GDP), geography

Materials Needed

  • graph paper
  • plain white paper (optional)
  • colored pencils or markers (one set of five to six colors per pair of students)
  • fine-line black marker (one per pair of students)
  • lists of population and GDP statistics for Western Hemisphere countries provided in the lesson or student-researched lists (students can use the Internet, newspapers, magazines, or library sources to research and find these statistics)

Lesson Plan

Link to the lesson at Using Cartograms to Learn About Latin American Demographics.


Assessment is included with the lesson.

Lesson Plan Source

RetaNet: Resources for Teaching About the Americas

Submitted By

Tim Pelkofer

National Standards

Social Sciences


Language Arts

Originally published 09/25/2000
Links last updated 08/22/2008