Topographic map

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Example: Topographic "Special Map of the Ortler Alps" in 1: 25,000 by Meurer-Freytag (1884), with contour lines and hillshading

A topographic map (also known as topographic map ) is a medium to large-scale map on a scale (1: 25000) 1: 50,000 to 1: 100,000, which is used to accurately depict the terrain (topography) and other visible details of the earth's surface. The terrain is usually represented by contour lines , supplemented by prominent elevation points (peaks, saddles, etc.) and the course of the waters as well as roads , railway lines , larger buildings , the outlines of localities and other technical issues such as borders, water pipes or power lines. All of these geographical objects are displayed in the correct position and completely in accordance with the map scale using a system of cartographic symbols.

Because of their fundamental importance for the economy, administration and the military tasks of a country, the publication, maintenance and management of a comprehensive system of topographic maps belong to the public tasks ( official maps ). Similar cards, e.g. B. hiking maps , but are also - mostly for limited, touristic interesting areas - issued by the publishing house cartography .


Example of a topographic map 1: 25,000 ( measuring table sheet ). Sheet 23 (old numbering) from Heilbronn, 1908

Due to new developments in land surveying, the representation and accuracy of the maps became better and better in the 18th and 19th centuries. As early as the 18th century, it was possible to produce very precise maps with hardly any errors in the location of localities. Numerous topographical maps in scales from 1: 20,000 to 1: 100,000 were created in the various kingdoms and duchies in Central Europe .

In neighboring countries, large-scale, uniform topographical maps existed for the military in each country since the beginning of the 18th century - such as the Carte de Cassini of France (1714–1787) and the Ferraris map of Belgium (1771–1778), the also cover areas in today's Germany.

However , there was no comprehensive map series for the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation . That changed in 1806. Prussia needed a set of maps on a uniform scale for all of Central Europe. The engineer-geographer Daniel Gottlob Reymann then published the first section of the extensive work of the pan-German topographical map series Geographical Special Atlas of Germany and neighboring countries on a scale of 1: 200,000 or Reymann's Special Map of Central Europe 1: 200,000 . These maps should show all of Central Europe, from Paris to Minsk and from Flensburg to Venice on a scale of 1: 200,000.

In 1836 he published the 142nd map. In 1838 the map series comprised maps of northern France, Belgium, the coast of the Netherlands, the German Empire, Poland and northern Austria-Hungary (today's northern Czech Republic). In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, the Prussian officers were provided with cards from Reymann, which they praised for their accuracy and attention to detail. In 1846 the rights to this card were sold to the Flemming publishing house. This map series was continuously updated until 1908. This topographic map project is the first large-scale topographic map work far beyond the borders of Prussia and the German Confederation , which existed from 1815 .

It was not until 1877 that there were two more all-German map series. With the Prussian new recording on a scale of 1: 25,000 and its thousands of measuring table sheets , an extensive comprehensive map of the entire German Empire that has existed since 1871 was created, both in representation and in scale . Together with the map of the German Empire on a scale of 1: 100,000, which was created from 1878 for the entire German Empire, the topographical map series, which have hardly changed in this form and representation until today, were implemented as they are today as topographical maps in the 1 : 25,000 and 1: 100,000 are known.

Structure and map content

A topographic map usually consists of the map field (actual map), the map frame (coordinates) and the edge of the map with the explanation of symbols.

  • The map field includes the representation of the terrain (layer lines, hillshades , elevation points), the waters, the settlements and the transport network, also mostly the land cover (forest, meadow etc.), large buildings, important lines and the administrative boundaries. Many topographical objects, such as communities, bodies of water, mountains and landscapes are provided with their geographical names.
  • The map frame limits the square, rectangular or trapezoidal section of the map, depending on the type of illustration. In particular, it contains the numbering of the coordinate system on which the map is based .
  • The edge of the card usually bears the designation of the map series and the name of the map sheet at the top. On the side or at the bottom there is a map scale , a scale bar and other information, usually also an extract of the explanation of symbols. This legend explains the map content and its character set (signatures) in a concise form. It is compiled in detail on a special sample sheet.

Scale and accuracy

Important topographic maps have a scale of 1: 25,000 to 1: 100,000. They are used especially for military purposes as a tactical map and as a basis for technical planning and geoscientific investigations. The scale 1: 25,000 is often used for hiking maps .

Large- scale maps on a scale of 1: 5,000 to 1: 20,000 are more detailed . They contain all individual buildings, the exact course of roadsides and embankments, but are mostly only available in industrialized countries because of their high production costs and their small area representation per map sheet.

As overview maps in the small-scale range (1: 200,000, 1: 250,000 and even 1: 500,000 TPC ) serve military maps - especially for militärgeografische purposes (Operation Planning and as airline tickets), for which there is a civilian counterpart as a general map with the general map scale 1: 250,000 (Russian 1: 200,000 and Switzerland 1: 300,000) there.

Example: (medium scale, height-coded): Swabian-Franconian Forest Mountains 1: 400,000
Example: (small scale): Overview map Austria 1: 1 million (for official maps see web links)

Small-scale overview maps, however, are available worldwide. They have a scale between 1: 200,000 and 1: 1 million and are mainly used for geographic purposes.

The accuracy of good topographic maps is around 0.3 millimeters, which corresponds to around 15 or 30 meters at a scale of 1: 50,000 or 1: 100,000. This guideline value only applies to details that can be precisely represented (e.g. streams, paths, individual buildings), while roads and railways - especially in narrow valleys - often need to be "displaced" or generalized for graphic reasons.

Purpose, areas of application

Since topographic maps, especially on a large scale, can show the appearance of the earth's surface with high cartographic accuracy and detail completeness, they are particularly suitable for military purposes, the documentation of scientific surveys, for the representation of geothematic findings (e.g. orography , Geomorphology and hydrology ), for the planning of traffic routes , lines and routes , for the management of areas, areas and regions and, last but not least, for orientation in the field. Topographical maps are naturally the ideal basis for processing them into hiking, cycling, leisure and nature park maps and as a basis for thematic maps .

In the past, all other topographical, geographical and thematic maps of public administration and private map publishers were derived from the official topographical maps by adopting the content, new cartographical design and mostly also reducing the scale.

Official topographical maps are produced on a legal basis from tax revenues and primarily serve public services and security as well as national defense. For example, the German Armed Forces Center for Geographic Information ensures its map needs largely from the official topographic national maps. The geological services of the federal states publish geological , hydrogeological and soil maps on the basis of the national map series .

Sources, manufacture

The modern maps are the result of a complex manufacturing process, which begins with the planning and implementation of a flight for aerial photography . High-precision opto-mechanical or digital stereo autographs are used for the evaluation , the results of which are transformed into the coordinate system of the national survey . They also serve as basic data (geometrical basis) for geographic information systems , the area-related data of which are used in the production of maps.

Instead of aerial photographs and their combination to form image blocks , satellite images are also used today - especially in developing countries .

The subsequent cartographic and printing work are dealt with in the articles cartography , generalization (cartography) and reprography .

Official topographic maps

Official topographic maps are kept as area-wide maps and are based on the results of an exact national survey, which was mainly carried out by the state in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. The topographical maps were created by exploring and drawing in the area with the help of a measuring table and tilting rule , i.e. purely graphic methods . Even today, many people use the expression measuring table sheet from that time to describe the topographic map 1: 25,000 - not infrequently a topographic map at all.

The measuring table sheets, which were not published at all in the first half of the 19th century and later with the advent of railway construction and industrialization, were the cartographic basis for the derivation of the " General Staff Map" 1: 100,000 and later other maps.

In the course of their development, the topographical national maps were initially updated through local exploration using the measuring table method, then through tachymetric recordings and finally today through the analog or digital stereoscopic evaluation of aerial photographs . The state surveying authorities try to keep the official topographical maps as up-to-date as possible through close cooperation with those responsible for topographical changes in the landscape, for example in the construction of settlements, roads and railways, open-cast lignite mining and changes in administrative areas.

Topographic maps of publishing cartography

Topographic maps published by private map publishers are mostly derived from official topographic maps of suitable scales. After this one-time revision, they are then continued on their own original media and kept up to date. Private publishers only carry out large-scale surveys to survey topographic objects in exceptional cases . However, they do work together with authorities, nature park operators and hiking clubs in order to obtain suitable information about the content of their maps and how to update them.

Official topographic maps in Germany

Cooperation between the federal government and the federal states: The official topographical maps in Germany have a history of more than two hundred years ( measurement table sheet ).

Their production and issuance is now part of the constitutional responsibility of the federal states that have set up state surveying authorities and work together voluntarily in the working group of the surveying administrations of the federal states of the Federal Republic of Germany (AdV) in order to largely ensure uniformity of the maps throughout Germany.

National map series: The official topographic maps are kept in Germany as topographic national map series in the scales 1: 5,000 to 1: 1 million. The federal states have concluded administrative agreements with the federal government, according to which the map series up to 1: 100,000 are processed by the state surveying authorities, those from 1: 200,000 by the federal government, which has commissioned the Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy (BKG) to do so .

Digital topographic maps

Until around 1990 the national maps were published exclusively in analogue printed form. Since 1990 they have been managed as digital topographic maps (DTK) in the official topographic-cartographic information system ATKIS , from which - in some cases only when required - printed map editions are derived.

A distinction must be made between:

  • Digital topographic maps that were created by scanning analogue originals (referred to as DTK-V or "preliminary edition")
  • Digital topographic maps, which are derived in new map graphics and layer structure from a corresponding vector-based digital landscape model (DLM) in raster format (from 2008, not yet widely available, referred to as DTK).

The differences in the map image are considerable.

The following official topographical maps are currently being kept in Germany and issued by the state surveying authorities and the BKG:

  • Digital topographic map 1: 10,000 (DTK10)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 25,000 (DTK25)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 50,000 (DTK50)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 100,000 (DTK100)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 200,000 (DTK200)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 250,000 (DTK250)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 500,000 (DTK500)
  • Digital topographic map 1: 1 million (DTK1000)

In some countries, the German basic map 1: 5,000 (DGK5) derived from the property map and topographically supplemented was also kept . Topographic maps in this scale range are derived today from the official real estate cadastre information system ALKIS .

Sheet section, coordinate systems

The official topographic maps are in the true sense of the word map series , topographic national map series. These are set up as frame cards so that the map series 1: 25,000, 1: 50,000, 1: 100,000 and 1: 200,000 each have the same map area. Your map sheets are trimmed as degree division maps according to geographical coordinates. Four map sheets of the larger scale each form a map sheet of the next smaller scale.

The official topographic maps show both geographic coordinates and up to 1: 200,000 the coordinates of the Gauß-Krüger system , and more recently also UTM coordinates .

Sheet designation

Section of the North Sea coast
The upper red lettering indicates the year of the first edition and, if applicable, the original name of the map sheet. The current number of the card sheet and its current name are shown in black.
Example of a topographic map 1: 25,000 (measuring table sheet). Sheet 3759 from Schwiebus (today Świebodzin ), 1933
Sheet numbering, sheet naming

The printed topographic maps on a scale of 1: 25,000 to 1: 200,000 in Germany have been given a four-digit page number and a name since 1937, mostly after the largest or (historically) most important place. The numbering follows a tabular system: the first two digits indicate the line (numbered from north to south), the last two (or three) digits the column (numbered from west to east). The numbering system was based on the borders of the German Reich until 1914 (or mid-1939), which extended further to the east and north than the Federal Republic of Germany in the borders since 1990.

Historical topographical maps in the scales 1: 25,000, 1: 100,000 and 1: 300,000 are distributed by the Federal Office for Cartography and Geodesy as reprints of the map inventory of the former Reich Office for Land Survey .

  • The northernmost (01xx) maps covered the northern edge of the Memelland : "0192 Nimmersatt " (coverage 21 ° 00 'to 21 ° 30' east, 55 ° 48 'to 55 ° 54' north), "0193 Deutsch-Crottingen ", " 0194 Jakubowo ". In today's Danish northern Schleswig , counting began from 05xx.
  • The most easterly maps for northeast Prussia to the border river Scheschuppe required three-digit numbers from 22 ° 20 'east: "10103 Panowe ", "11103 Dwarischken" (since 1938 Brämerhusen) (coverage from 22 ° 50' east, 54 ° 48 'to 54 ° 54 'North), "12103 Schirwindt "
  • The westernmost (xx01) TK sheets are still "4901 Selfkant" (formerly "4901 Waldfeucht") and 5001 " Gangelt ", Germany's westernmost point on the Dutch border is at 5.866 ° and 5 ° 52 'east. The border shifts made in the Peace Treaty of Versailles after the First World War had no effect on the western point of Germany, which was indicated as being near Isenbruch (part of the municipality of Selfkant) as early as 1856 . The imperial German Eupen-Malmedy only extended to approx. 6 ° East, the imperial state Alsace-Lorraine near Redingen i. Lothr. On the map sheet 6501 “ Deutsch-Oth ” only up to approx. 5 ° 54 'East, at Vionville on 6901 “ Gorze ” up to 5 ° 55'.
  • In the south, German-language TK sheets for the Alpine countries are available.

A TK25 map sheet covers a tenth of a degree of latitude vertically, i.e. six minutes of latitude 06 'or 11.1 km and correspondingly 44.4 cm, and horizontally about a sixth degree of longitude or ten minutes of longitude 10'. Within the borders of the Federal Republic of Germany since October 1990, the outermost map sheets are:

number Surname state location
0916 Cunning Schleswig-Holstein northernmost sheet (55 ° 1 'north latitude)
Saxony easternmost leaves ( 15 ° 2 'eastern longitude )
4901 Selfkant North Rhine-Westphalia westernmost sheet (5 ° 55 'east longitude)
8727 Beaver head Bavaria southernmost leaf (47 ° 16 'north latitude)

The sheets are named after the largest town on the map, e.g. B. "6322 Hardheim". If this location is exactly on the edge of the map, the name of the sheet is supplemented with the appropriate direction, for example "6323 Tauberbischofsheim (West)" and "6324 Tauberbischofsheim (East)". In metropolitan areas such as Mannheim or Stuttgart, four map sheets can be named after the same location. Examples:

  • "4425 Göttingen" is the sheet in the 44th row from the north and the 25th column from the west, with Göttingen as the largest place
  • "5506 Aremberg": 55th row from the north and 6th column from the west, Aremberg was the most important place until 1794.
  • "6617 Schwetzingen ": coverage 8 ° 30 'to 8 ° 40' east, 49 ° 18 'to 49 ° 24' north
  • "7220 Stuttgart Südwest": coverage from 9 ° 00 'to 9 ° 10' east, 48 ° 42 'to 48 ° 48' north

The TK sheet numbers are also used to name or determine the location ( grid square ) of road bridges and the counting stations for road traffic counts .

Official topographic maps of Switzerland

The National Map of Switzerland is the official (topographical) map series of Switzerland and is produced and published by the Federal Office for National Topography (swisstopo), Wabern near Bern.

Official topographic maps of Austria

The Austrian Map (ÖK) is the official (topographical) map of Austria and is kept and published by the Federal Office for Metrology and Surveying (BEV), Vienna. It is offered in the scales 1: 50,000 (ÖK 50) (enlarged as 1: 25,000 (ÖK 25)), 1: 200,000 (ÖK 200) and 1: 500,000 (ÖK 500).

These maps are also known in electronic form as AMap for Austrian Map .

The gap in the scale at 1: 100,000 is filled by unofficial hiking maps of areas of interest with a corresponding map section . The publishing house Freytag & Berndt , which is active in this field, has been allowed to use the federal coat of arms in business transactions since 1965 due to the state award.

Free topographic maps

Topographic map from OpenStreetMap and SRTM data

The free geodatabase OpenStreetMap makes it possible to create free online or paper maps. Together with the elevation data from the SRTM mission placed under public domain by NASA , contour lines and hillshades can be calculated from the digital terrain model. The advantages are free use, an up-to-date database, worldwide coverage and interactive online maps. Automatically generated maps do not come close to manually generated maps, but the quality can be sufficient for hikers or cyclists.

See also


  • Günter Hake, Dietmar Grünreich, Liqiu Meng: Cartography. de Gruyter, 2002
  • Hans-Uli Feldmann, N. Kreiter: On the situation of official cartography in Switzerland . In Kartographische Nachrichten , 56th year 2006, issue 5, p. 243
  • Rolf Harbeck: On the situation of the official topographical cartography in Germany . In Kartographische Nachrichten , 55th year 2005, issue 6, p. 297
  • Rudi Ogrissek (Ed.): Brockhaus ABC Kartenkunde . VEB FA Brockhaus Verlag, Leipzig 1983
  • Viktor Zill, B. Jüptner, R. Mittermaier: To the situation of the official cartography in Austria . In: Kartographische Nachrichten , 56th year 2006, issue 6, p. 291
  • Eduard Imhof : Terrain and Map . Rentsch, Stuttgart 1968, ISBN 3-7249-0225-5

Web links

Commons : Topographic Maps  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Digital topographic maps Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy . Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  2. Historical maps
  3. Topographical measuring table sheets. In: GeoGREIF (Geographical Collections). University of Greifswald, archived from the original on August 25, 2010 ; accessed on April 3, 2019 .
  4. East Prussia - An overview of the measuring table sheets. Lupp map service, archived from the original on July 9, 2012 ; accessed on April 3, 2019 .
  5. ( Memento of the original from August 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Topographical measuring table sheets: Overview maps Germany - northern part ( Memento of the original from May 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. This also involved a change of location: Dwarischken was called Löbelshorst since 1938, Brämerhusen was called Nowischken before 1938.
  8. Topographical measuring table sheets. (No longer available online.) In: GeoGREIF (Geographical Collections). University of Greifswald, archived from the original on August 25, 2010 ; Retrieved September 19, 2010 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ( Memento of the original from May 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. ( Memento of the original from May 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. ^ S. Steinhard: Germany and its people. A reading and house book for young and old to promote and stimulate patriotic senses and knowledge. First part: Germany in general. First volume: German land . Hugo Scheube, Gotha 1856, p. 4
  12. ( Memento of the original from May 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. ( Memento of the original from May 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. OpenTopoMap