Best World Atlas Book Review — Learn About the World with Illustrated Maps for Adults and Kids

World atlases are useful for educational purposes, but also to help you discover the beautiful world we live in whether you’re travelling to a foreign country or are curious where the tallest mountains are located. These textbooks are quite comprehensive and detailed, so you’ll find tons of new and interesting facts about our globe. The following 5 atlases have been picked from some of the best world atlas brands out there and are ready for you to discover them!
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Age range
Available as
Our Top Choice
Rand McNally Goode's World Atlas
Rand Mcnally makes world atlases, road maps and world maps in different formats and sizes. Many of its products are currently best sellers.
Available in hardcover and paperback formats. 400 pages worth of maps, tables and graphs. Thematic maps included.
Not updated in line with the 2010 census, but other than that, accurate.
Physical, political, and thematic
All ages
Hardcover or paperback
August 20, 2016
Best Value
National Geographic Kids Student World Atlas
National Geographic specializes in exploration, discoveries and science. It has sold more than 1,700 titles in various categories such as space, geography and health.
Available in paperback and hardcover formats. Reasonably priced. 144 pages worth of maps, facts, data, charts and tables.
Doesn’t feature individual country maps, but National Geographic makes other atlases which contain such information.
Physical, political, and thematic
12 and up
Hardcover or paperback
July 9, 2019
Oxford University Press Atlas of the World
Oxford University Press sells hundreds of world atlases, dictionaries and similar useful textbooks which can be used by people of all ages.
448 pages of full-color maps. Updated data. Satellite images. Full of graphs, tables, charts and diagrams.
A bit heavy at 448 pages, but this is one of the most comprehensive atlases you can find out there.
Physical, satellite images & more
All ages
October 1, 2019
Collins Maps World Atlas: Illustrated Edition
Collins Maps specializes in atlases, maps and pocket-size travel guides. Its products are sold in many countries worldwide.
Reasonably priced. Detailed and updated maps. 240 pages in total. Contains lots of statistics, charts, graphs and tables.
Some territories are not as detailed as possible, but Collins Maps make more comprehensive atlases if that’s what you're looking for.
Physical, political, and thematic
All ages
June 1, 2016
DK Smithsonian Children's Illustrated Atlas
DK is known for making world atlases, travel maps and guides as well as detailed textbooks about different tourist attractions and important cities.
Portable and easy to use. Ideal for kids aged 8-12. Affordable. Contains 50 maps full of details and facts.
Not the most comprehensive atlas in the world, but DK makes other atlases which get into much more detail.
Physical, thematic & more
8-12 years
August 16, 2016

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What is the Best World Atlas?

Remember, a good comprehensive world atlas is useful to have in your house or classroom any time, not only in those moments when you have an exam. Now that you know what to look for when buying one, let's take a look at our 5 contenders and decide which one is suitable for you. We'd also like to give a shout out to Merriam-Webster whose 2020 Student Atlas is another highly rated option — we simply didn't have enough room for 6!

Our Top Choice
The Goodes Atlas from Rand Mcnally is available in both hardcover and paperback versions and it is currently on the 23rd edition. If you want to expand your geography knowledge, you might also be interested in a Map of the World. This item comes from the same manufacturer and it is currently a bestseller.

Rand McNally Goode's World Atlas (23rd Edition) — Hardcover or Paperback Available

Rand Mcnally is a publishing company which makes maps, textbooks, travel accessories and world atlases. Its products are great for educational purposes and they come at reasonable prices. This brand also makes street guides and road maps which are useful for people who travel a lot.

The Goodes Atlas is on its 23rd edition (as of this review) and it is available in both paperback and hardcover versions. You have the option of buying it used or renting it and the atlas contains political, physical and even thematic maps. This atlas also comes with tables, indexes, graphs and detailed information about almost any part of the globe. At 400 pages, this atlas definitely provides substantial research material.
Best Value
The National Geographic Student World Atlas is available in paperback and hardcover form and comes at a reasonable page. It contains 144 pages of cartography, maps and graphs. If you require a more comprehensive atlas, go for the National Geographic Family Reference Atlas which contains more than a thousand detailed maps.

National Geographic Student World Atlas, 5th Edition Student Edition — Hardcover or Paperback Available

National Geographic has published over 1,700 titles in different categories such as space, science, photography and geography. It is a renowned brand focused on exploration, discoveries and conservation. The atlases made by this brand are used by millions of students worldwide.

The National Geographic Student World Atlas is on its 5th Edition (as of this review) and contains no less than 144 pages of high-quality digital mapping, tables and graphs. This atlas is ideal for educational purposes and it comes at a reasonable price.

It includes full-color political, physical and thematic maps and its data is gathered by the newest space-age technology and satellites. On top of that, this atlas also comes with quizzes, facts, charts and interesting info about various countries of the world.
The Atlas of the World from Oxford University Press is available as hardcover and contains approximately 448 pages of detailed maps. If you prefer a more concise atlas which is more portable, we recommend the New Concise World Atlas from the same manufacturer. This one contains 224 pages, but remains excellent for educational purposes.

Oxford Atlas of the World Twenty-Sixth Edition - 448 Pages, Sophisticated Digital Mapping

Oxford University Press sells hundreds of interesting and useful books such as atlases, dictionaries and even bibles. Its textbooks are available in physical format as well as digital format which can be read on your kindle. If you have kids then you might be interested in the visual dictionaries this brand sells as they are ideal for learning different types of languages easily and quickly.

Since this is a review about atlases, let's talk about the Atlas of the World from Oxford University Press. This book is on its 26th edition and available in hardcover. It contains 448 pages full of colorful maps and images as well as 18 pages of satellite imagery. This is probably the most comprehensive atlas you can find on the market today.

Apart from maps and satellite images, you will also find plenty of graphs, tables and diagrams in this atlas which are useful to convey facts about the world we live in. For example, you will discover thematic features, a comprehensive index and multiple statistical tables.
The Collins World Atlas Illustrated Edition is available in paperback and contains 240 pages of maps, charts and useful geographical data. If you prefer a smaller atlas with more concise info, we recommend the Collins World Atlas: Paperback Edition which has 64 pages.

Collins Maps World Atlas: Illustrated Edition – 6th Edition, 240 Pages, Satellite Imagery

Collin Maps has been making atlases and maps for more than 200 years now and is a leading publisher, selling its products to millions of customers worldwide. Apart from atlases, this brand also makes road maps, touring maps and pocket-size maps of different large cities.

We were impressed by the Collins World Atlas: Illustrated Edition because it contains accurate and up-to-date maps and satellite imagery which will be helpful for you if you are looking for a certain city or learning for an upcoming exam. This atlas contains 240 pages and features statistics, graphs, tables and charts that will make your learning process easier and more fun. As a bonus, you also get an index with more than 50,000 place names which will definitely broaden your geographical knowledge!
The Children's Illustrated Atlas from DK is ideal for kids aged between 8 and 12 years and is available in hardcover. If you require a more detailed and comprehensive world atlas, we suggest going for the Complete Atlas of the World from the same manufacturer.

DK Smithsonian Children's Illustrated Atlas – 50 Unique World Maps, Ideal Book for Classroom

The name DK doesn’t reveal much about itself, but this company focuses on providing its customers with useful and portable atlases, road maps, travel guides and similar textbooks. If you are visiting a foreign country or want to expand your geographical knowledge, take a look at the books provided by DK and you'll definitely find many useful titles in its collection.

The Children's Illustrated Atlas from DK has 128 pages and contain 50 full-color maps of various regions of the world, including a detailed map of each country. On top of that, young students will learn a plethora of interesting facts and trivia about different countries and how to use a compass and a scale. The subjects treated by this atlas include population, climate, mountains, rivers and many more.

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best World Atlas Book for Home or School

World atlases have been used for many years by explorers, students and just curious people who wanted to know more about the world around us. The very first one was published in 1570! These textbooks contain accurate maps, details and facts about almost all regions of the globe. Moreover, newer and updated versions of world atlases contain satellite imagery which can be used for various purposes.

If you travel a lot by car, a world atlas will be useful for you as it provides you permanent access to almost all known territories on earth. Whether you travel for pleasure or business purposes, if you have a backpack, a personalized map, a travel mug and a world atlas, you are set for adventure and ready to discover the beautiful world around you!

On the other hand, you might also require an atlas if you are a student or just want to satisfy your curiosities regarding geography. In any case, this guide will help you learn how to choose the right atlas for your needs!

Map Shows How Humans Migrated Across The Globe

National Geographic's Genographic Project: Piecing together the story of our ancestors. | Courtesy of Science Insider
When it comes to price, a good world atlas will set you back financially between 10 and 70 dollars. The price of an atlas depends on various factors, comprehensiveness being the most important one. For example, a "lighter" world atlas will have around 200 pages and cost around 15-20 bucks while a more detailed and comprehensive one can go up to 70 dollars or even more simply because it contains more data.

Of course, you can also settle for cheap world atlases, those ones which are usually priced below 10 dollars, but we highly discourage you. Such cheap atlases are made from poor quality paper and they might even contain factual errors.

Let's go ahead now and find out the basics when it comes to picking the right world atlas, to make sure you are making a good decision and avoid spending too much money. Here are the aspects you need to keep in mind.
  • Number of pages - not extremely important, but definitely good to know. Very comprehensive atlases usually have more than 400 pages and they’re more suitable for those who need to prepare for an in-depth geography exam
  • Types of maps - some atlases contain satellite imagery, thematic maps and full-color pictures of almost all countries in the world
  • Age range - if you’re buying an atlas for your kid, make sure you select one suitable for their grade grades
You should also keep in mind that a good atlas also contains facts, statistics, tables, charts, graphs and other visual representation methods. They will make the learning process easier and more exciting.
Construction and Design
Today's atlases are available in hardcover and paperback form and you can buy them brand new, used or even rent them for a certain period of time. The beauty of these textbooks is that they contain full-color maps and detailed imagery, helping you to grasp as much information as possible in a short amount of time.

As a word of advice, though, keep in mind that more comprehensive atlases, usually those which feature several hundred pages, are also quite heavy and difficult to carry. If you want an atlas to take with you in your car, go for a more concise version which features the basics and is more portable.
Performance and Ease of Use
Thanks to the fact that a world atlas contains tables, charts and info-graphics, you'll be able to find out the answer you need quicker and easier. Many high-quality atlases also contain fun facts or trivia which is nice to know, especially if you are really passionate about geography.

Keep in mind that an atlas can be used for years, so it is a wise investment in education, and today's latest world atlases have been updated to reflect the most recent data sent out by space-age technologies and satellites around the globe!

Human Population Through Time

It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. | Courtesy of American Museum of Natural History

Get the Best World Atlas of 2023!

Before wrapping it up, keep in mind that these brands also make useful road maps and travel guides which will come in handy when you leave on vacation or travel for business purposes.

Our Top Choice
Rand McNally Goode's World Atlas
Best Value
National Geographic Kids Student World Atlas
Oxford University Press Atlas of the World
Collins Maps World Atlas: Illustrated Edition
DK Smithsonian Children's Illustrated Atlas

World Atlas FAQs

What is the best world atlas?
There are several options when it comes to the best world atlas. Essentially, a world atlas should act as a reference book when it comes to finding information about various places globally. They provide valuable information in geography classes and can act as guides for a traveler. We shall avoid making outright recommendations as far as the best world atlas is concerned. All we can say is that a book that serves your needs should be considered the best for you. You can know what you have by checking out key features.
Is a world atlas a reliable resource?
Yes. A world atlas is a reliable resource for anyone looking for detailed information about different places globally (as long as you get one that is up to date). In it, you will gain access to maps of different areas, physical features, infrastructure, population, economy, and so on. Some books even feature graphs and tables analyzing various types of information about the featured places. By glancing on a single page in a world atlas, you will be able to learn so much about it. In addition to cartographic maps, some books even feature satellite images of different places on the earth. They give you information comparable to that you will find online through Google Maps.
Where can I buy the best world atlas book?
You can buy the best world atlas anywhere books are sold. Since you are online, you might want to check reliable online retailers like Amazon. In the books section, you are sure to find many of the best world atlases listed. You may also buy the atlases by clicking on the links provided on websites such as this one. The benefit of following the links is that you would already have been exposed to detailed reviews to help you make an informed choice.