Geography through Maps

In continuation with our strategy for prelims 2019, today we shall discuss the importance and

methodology on ‘How to prepare geography through maps and map based questions’.

Atlas forms the core of your Geography preparation. 

In 2014 alone 6 Questions were map based.

Map being an intrinsic part of your entire preparation, aspirants often gets confused where to being.

*All and all one can expect 5-6 direct questionsand couple more indirect ones from the map sectionthus weighing around 10-12 marks in your GS prelims

Book Required

  • One can buy Oxford Student Atlas or Orient Blackswan School atlas.
  • The most important material other than atlas is your National Daily (The Hindu, Indian Express etc.). This will help you to guess important geographical region in news and prepare accordingly.

Benefits of Studying maps

  • One can easily and efficiently cover physical and human geography through maps.
  • Gives break from monotonous textual study.

UPSC tend to ask two types of map based questions.

  • One which is from static part and every aspirant is supposed to know.
  • Other being dynamically mapped with current affairs.

* This one is a very standard and expected question from world physical geography point of view.

Turkey is located between (2014)

  • Black Sea and Caspian Sea
  • Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea
  • Gulf of Suez and Mediterranean Sea
  • Gulf of Aqaba and Dead Sea

This question is dynamically linked due to Mercury pollution caused by HUL and has been in news for quiet sometime.

Which one of the following is an artificial lake? (2018)

  • Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu)
  • Kolleru (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Nainital (Uttarakhand)
  • Renuka (Himachal Pradesh)

How to start the preparation?


We recommend you to start with political map of India.

Try to remember the location of all states and Union territories, major cities, 

which state borders maximum no of states, which states share international borders.

Try arranging the major cities north to south, east to west, which states have tropic of 

cancer passing through it etc.

Which major rivers passing through the major cities, capitals etc for example Sabarmati

 from Ahmedabad, tapi from surat.

Once thorough with political locations move on to the most important physical map.

Go through the Himalayas geographical extent, its division (lesser , middle. Greater), 

which passes connect which cities or region and lies in which state, any rivers which 

originates from these mountains and flows through these passes for example river Satluj

 enters india through Shipkila pass.Try to segregate your preparation in different physical

 regions and reliefs.

>>Be thorough with major rivers-their origin, tributaries, states and cities which they

 flow through, are they east flowing or west flowing rivers etc.

>>Northeast is very much important from prelims point of view. Go through the 

rivers, various hills (arrange them from north to south, east to west) important 

national parks in these physical relief. For example Government has announced Sela

 pass in previous budget, try locate in which state it lies, similarly on which river Bhupen

 Hazaraika bridge is built etc.

>>The peninsular India study should be focused on Western and Eastern Ghats,

 regional hills, national parks located.

>>The Island and marine location is of utmost importance. Pay special focus on

 Andamans since the news related to sentinelese is making buzz.

National Parks and reserves. UPSC off late have starte asking question from this area. 

There are more than 100 national parks so it is impossible to remember them all. 

Best strategy would be to read about the most important and in news ones. 

Try to know about their location statewise, rivers which flow through them, 

do they share any border with other state or neighboring countries.

This is another vast yet an important area. We shall give you very simple and 

effective strategy to master that.WORLD

Start continent wise. Asia being the most important one

Go thorough different countries which are in news. For example North Korea so try

 see its neighboring countries and border.There two back to back questions in 2014

 and 2015 regarding the central Asian nations because of high level government visit 

and connect central Asia policy.

Try to arrange major cites again in north-south and east-west alignment

Pay special focus to ASEAN group of nations and West Asia and question this location 

is a regular feature

The area known as ‘Golan Heights’ sometimes appears in the news in the context of the events related to

  • Central Asia
  • Middle East
  • South-East Asia
  • Central Africa

Mediterranean Sea is a border of which of the 

following countries?

  1. Jordan
  2. xIraq
  3. xLebanon
  4. Syria

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1, 2 and 3 only
  • 2 and 3 only
  • 3 and 4 only
  • 1, 3 and 4 only

*The above questions were asked since these regions were regularly in news.

With respect to other continents just focus on important physical reliefs like deserts ,

 rivers , great lakes of Africa and North America, countries which are landlocked or doubly

 landlocked, important straits, bays and most important cities, reliefs which is news.

 For example 2018-2019 is flanked with news on Venezuela, Northern Ireland etc. 

thus a simple yet confusing question could be expected from this.

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