Topographic Mapping of Nepal

HMG Survey Department of Nepal
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland
1992 – 2002

Topographic mapping is a part of development co-operation between His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and Government of Finland. The project was launched at the end of 1992, when FINNMAP was selected as the contractor of Eastern Nepal Topographic Mapping Project, which consisted of mapping of two regions, approx. 58 000 km². The Western Nepal Topographic Mapping Project was started at the end of 1995. It was the direct continuation of the topographic mapping program and consisted of remaining 3 regions, totally approx. 82 000 km². The whole mapping program was carried out in close co-operation of FINNMAP and HMG Survey Department of Nepal. The basic scales of the mapping are 1:25 000 on low areas (Terai and Middle Mountains) and 1:50 000 on mountainous areas (High Mountains and High Himalayas).

The topographic maps form corner stones for all nation wide Geographical Information Systems (GIS). In Nepal the first modern topographic mapping since 1950’s was completed at the end of 2002, when the last maps of North-Western Himalayas were published. The huge demand for printed maps as well as digital data has proved the importance of this work.

nepalmapThe map production consisted of all phases of topographic mapping. Aerial photography of the project areas was carried out in three separate missions: autumn 1992, winter 1996 and autumn 1996. Aerial photography flights were supported by latest GPS technology and coordinates of photo centers were registered. GPS observations were used also for ground control survey. The need of ground control was minimized by use of airborne GPS and the amount of ground control points was limited to 230 for the whole area. Mapping and cartography were carried out by conventional methods. The final maps are printed in six colors, 1000 copies of each. Totally 509 map sheets in scale 1:25 000 and 118 map sheets in scale 1:50 000 are published. An effective production line with quality control procedures was established during the project under supervision of FINNMAP’s experts.

The project has also an important role in developing of Survey Department’s capability as a national producer of geographic information. In addition to map production, the project included a special institutional building component for future development. The mission of FINNMAP’s experts in co-operation with local expert has:

  • Planned and executed a Digital Pilot Project in order to develop preparedness in digital map production in Survey Department
  • Prepared strategic plan for production and updating of geographic information, which has been published as “National Mapping, strategies and issues”
  • Developed standards and specifications for National Topographic Database, which forms a corner stone for all future Geographical Information Systems.