A program and method for a map display tool for use with a navigation system and used with a map database. The map display tool is adapted to render a map on a display or in a graphics buffer for a predetermined geographic region. The map display tool includes a map processing layer for performing the essential data manipulation, a graphics interface layer that maintains a series of look up tables with graphics commands, and a primitive layer customized to interact with an underlying graphics platform and the graphics interface layer. The map display tool renders a map by retrieving data items from the map database and processing each data item. Shape information is rendered on a screen or in a graphics buffer, name information is buffered and sorted to optimize filtering, prioritization, spatial conflicts resolution and other tasks prior to rendering.