International Maps

Maps, International


geographic maps made in different countries according to coordinated editorial guidelines and with uniform legends.

The decision to prepare the first international map, the 1:1,000, 000 general geographical map, was reached at the Fifth International Geographical Congress (Bern, 1891), but work on this map was uncoordinated in the initial stage. Uniform principles and requirements for making the map were adopted by international conferences in London (1909) and Paris (1913). Fourteen map sheets were published before 1914 (for the territory of Great Britain, Italy, France, Japan, Argentina, Chile, and the USA). The Central Bureau was set up in Southampton (Great Britain) in 1920 to coordinate the extensive work being done on the map. By the start of World War II (1939–5), 250 sheets of the map had been published; in addition, series of maps on the same scale, differing from the accepted standard in content and principles of construction, were published for a number of regions of Europe, Africa, and Latin America. During World War II international cooperation in preparation of the 1:1,000, -000 international map lessened; but a series of general geographic maps on this scale, covering virtually the entire world, but with significantly different content and quality, were published for military purposes. In 1944 work began on preparation of the international World Aeronautical Chart (W AC) on a scale of 1:1,000, 000.

In 1953 work on the 1:1,000, 000 international map was headed by the Cartographic Bureau of UNESCO. UN international conferences on the map were held in Bonn (Federal Republic of Germany) in 1962 and in Montreal (Canada) in 1966. The conferences ratified new requirements for preparing the map, which were less rigid with regard to uniformity among sheets and envisioned the possibility of simultaneously compiling blocks of general geographic and air navigation charts on a 1:1,000, 000 scale. Individual sheets of the new variation of the international map on the scale were published for the territory of Great Britain, France, the FRG, Portugal, Greece, Japan, western and eastern Africa, the island of Madagascar, the USA, Canada, and Australia.

In the USSR the first publication of a general geographical map on a scale of 1:1,000, 000 was completed in 1945. It totaled 183 sheets and formed the largest single block of the 1:1,000, 000 international map.

At the 1956 session of UNESCO in New York the Soviet delegation raised the question of making a uniform general geographic international map on a scale of 1:2, 500, 000 covering the entire land and water territory of the earth. This map is being compiled through the efforts of the USSR and the European socialist countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia). Of the 244 sheets, which cover the entire earth, 188 were published by the end of 1972. The map is being published in several variations, which makes it easier to use as the basis for various types of thematic maps.

A great deal of attention is being given to preparing thematic international maps, such as geological, geomorphological, geobotanical, land-use, and soil maps.


Salishchev, K. A. “Sovremennaia tematicheskaia kartografiia i zadachi mezhdunarodnogo sotrudnichestva.”Izv. AN SSSR: Ser. geografich., 1968, NO. 5.
Bohme, R. “Die internationale Weltkarte 1:1,000, 000.”Allgemeine Ver-messungs-Nachrichten, 1971, NO. 1.


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