A variety of factors combine to make it difficult to draw up and maintain an international map of the world adequate to the needs of modern life. There remain areas of the world which have been inadequately surveyed. Geographical names are only standardized with difficulty, since each language group names major world features in its own language (or even local features in a multilingual country). Economic development leads to the construction of new roads and towns and there is considerable delay in incorporating these into international maps. Also, the addition to such maps of national borders and country names raises major political issues where the borders are under dispute, or the name is not accepted by the regime in power. The technical problem of projecting a three-dimensional spherical surface satisfactorily into a two-dimensional map surface has not yet been solved so as to eliminate distortion.
Large scale maps (such as on the one millionth to one scale) serve as a basis for more specialized maps. Adequate maps are essential for development studies and surveys.