Overview map

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Topographic overview map 1: 500,000 of the central part of the Hohe Tauern (Austrian Central Alps); highest peak Großglockner highlighted
Modern geological overview map of Lorraine , original approx. 1: 1.5 million

As Maps small scaled are topographic maps referred that provide an overview of settlements, transport links and topography of a larger area. The map scale depends on the intended use and is usually in the range from 1: 200,000 to 1: 1 million, in which the predominant terrain forms can still be seen.

In some geosciences such as geology or hydrology or for navigation and aeronautical maps , scales of up to 1: 2 million are also used, where the topography can only be represented in a highly generalized manner.

National and international cards

State overview maps usually have a scale of 1: 500,000, for example maps of German federal states or the Austrian map ÖK 500 . Since almost all official maps are subject to copyright, only a less detailed overview map can be shown as an example (right), as it is suitable for a school atlas .

The most common aeronautical charts also have a scale of 1: 500,000 - see ICAO chart . Worldwide map series 1: 1 million are the International World Map (IWK) and the Operational Navigation Chart (ONC). Even smaller is z. B. the world map 1: 2.5 million .

Geological overview maps

While geological maps are usually on the scale of detailed maps - usually 1: 50,000 - for field work, smaller-scale documents are necessary for many overview and planning tasks . Most federal states (Germany, Austria) or regions (e.g. in Italy, France) therefore issue overview maps for tectonics and rock types on a scale of 1: 200,000 to 1: 500,000, states or larger regions often also 1: 1 million to 1: 2 Millions.

The first geological overview map was published in 1815 by William Smith of the rocks of Great Britain.


Map scale 1: 925,000 of the Marne, France. In: Stieler's Hand Atlas , 10th edition, Hundertjahr-Ausgabe, Gotha, Justus Perthes, 1925 ff. - excerpt from sheet 33 "Northeast France - Belgium - Luxembourg"
General view of the Atlas Tyrolensis, original scale 1: 545,000

The Tabula Peutingeriana , a road map of the late Roman Empire, is one of the earliest, though by no means true to scale, overview maps . From the 7th century onwards, large continental areas were mapped as mappa mundi (world or bike maps). The medieval portolans , which covered the Mediterranean coast well, but hardly the interior of the country, were much more precise . The overview maps, which were only sparsely available up to the 17th century, were criticized. a. Johannes Kepler the lack of area or angle fidelity . A rare exception are the very precise maps of flat areas in northern Germany by Tilemann Stella (1525–1589) or the Thuringian land table by Adolar Erich from around 1650. A more accurate and detailed representation of the terrain did not develop until the 18th century. through military geography , while in the mountains the Atlas Tyrolensis by Peter Anich (1723–1766) remained unmatched for a long time. Its original scale of 1: 103.800 was an extremely precise map at that time and corresponds in detail to a modern general map on only a slightly smaller scale. The synopsis of the 20 sheets (1: 545,000, picture above left) practically represents an overview map in today's sense.

The systematic land surveys in France and Central Europe, beginning around 1870, marked a significant further development . B. the above map of the Reims region or in Austria-Hungary the Franzisco-Josephinische Landesaufnahme . On this basis, the so-called general maps were created on a scale of 1: 144,000 and 1: 200,000, which were still hatched maps , but geometrically already meet today's requirements. At the same time, the atlas cartography also developed the comprehensive representation of very large areas in physical maps .

Maps for special purposes and tourism

Display board in Hustai National Park, Mongolia

In some subject areas, the overview or overview map is also used for cartographic representations that only give a schematic overview of the geographical location of special objects - for example of tourist destinations, the course of military operations or of service or industrial companies . The possible scale range is wider than mentioned above, depending on the area to be covered. In surveying, on the other hand, there is the fixed point overview , in which all fixed points of a district are listed. Because of the attention to detail, the scale here is 1: 10,000 to 1: 50,000.

See also


  • V. Heissler, G.Hake: Cartography Volumes I and II, Göschen Collection, deGruyter-Verlag Berlin 1970
  • Ingrid Kretschmer: Atlantes Austriaci 2nd volume 1919-1994, Böhler-Verlag, Vienna / Cologne 1995