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This pragmatic book introduces key concepts and skills to prepare students to understand and use geographic information systems (GIS). The text thoroughly explains what geographic information is, how it is represented and analyzed, and what it communicates about human and environmental activities and events that take place on our planet. Basic principles of map making and map reading are integrated with discussions of relevant information technologies and applications. Written in an accessible style, the text is organized into four parts that can be used in any sequence in entry-level and more specialized GIS courses. User-friendly features include practical examples and exercises, engaging vignettes, and helpful Internet resources.