I collect atlases of all types, but primarily world atlases. I have recommended several in the past and will cover more in the future. It would be impossible for me to pick my favorite or one “best atlas.” But for many years, I have told people if you only own one world atlas, a good place to start is Goode’s World Atlas.
 
The reasons I like this atlas is that it is both a geographical atlas (showing borders and mountains and cities, etc.) and a basic economic atlas (showing population density, crops, minerals, weather, etc.). It is updated relatively frequently (a new one came out in the summer of 2009) and it is affordable. What more can I say? Every educated person should have a good atlas at their desk or in their library, and the new Goode’s would be hard to beat!  (The hardcover is actually cheaper than the paperback on Amazon.)


    


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