Two organizations, one civilian and one military, share
responsibility for most, but not all, of the official topographic
mapping of Brazil. The Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia
Estatística (IBGE), Rio de Janeiro, originated in 1937 as the
Conselho National de Geografía, with the mission to plan
and expedite the mapping of the country, beginning with a
modern version of the 1:1,000,000 scale map constructed
from new trimetrogon photography and completed in 1946.
The agency was established under its present name in 1971
and is now responsible for the collection, analysis and
production of census statistics as well as geodetic and topographic
survey. The Diretoria de Serviço Geográfico
(DSG), of the Ministério do Exército, Brasília, originated in
1890, but acquired its present name and structure in 1946.
Today, in order to avoid overlaps, IBGE and DSG work cooperatively
on the systematic mapping of the country, which
conforms to a unified National Cartographic System.
Administratively, Brazil comprises 26 states and one Federal
District (Brasilia) which in turn are grouped into five regions,
and consequently some topographic mapping of this huge
country has also been carried out on a state or regional basis.
However, all official topographic mapping activities are coordinated
by the National Commission of Cartography
(CONCAR, formerly COCAR), which was reformulated in
The largest scale map to cover the entire country remains
the 1:1,000,000 scale series, redrawn to the International map
of the World (IMW), Bonn specification in 1971-2. This map
covers Brazil in 46 sheets, which are revised on a roughly
10-year cycle. The series also forms the basis for many
thematic maps. Sheets cover the usual 6° x 4°
area and the projection is Lambert conformal conic. From
1946 until 1967, a 1:500,000 scale series covering the
eastern part of the country was in production, but has been
A 1:250,000 scale series was started in 1949, but after a
hiatus was re-launched in 1972, and now covers 80 percent
of the country. Part of the Amazon Basin is only available
as radar image maps at this scale, completed between 1971
and 1983. Sheets cover 1° 30' longitude by 30' latitude, 16
sheets covering the equivalent area of an IMW sheet.
Projection was originally polyconic, but today the UTM is
favoured. Sheets are printed in six colors, with contours at
100 m or 50 m intervals.
1:100,000 scale mapping on the UTM projection covers 75
percent of the country, and has been undertaken partly by
IBGE, and partly by DSG. Regional mapping organizations
have also contributed to the mapping at this scale. Sheets
cover 30' x 30' and the contour interval is generally 50 m.
In the Northeast region this mapping has been undertaken
by the government development agency for this area, the
Superintendência de Desenvolvimento do Nordeste
(SUDENE), founded in 1959 to develop the infrastructure
of this region.
1:50,000 scale mapping is undertaken in areas with relatively
great population density. Sheets covers about 14 percent of the country, mainly coastal areas of the southeast.
Sheets are produced by photogrammetric survey and are on
the UTM projection, with 20 m contours.
1:25,000 scale topographic mapping was initiated in 1984
but covers only the Federal District and some parts of Goiás
and of the Northeast and South regions.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Brazil is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (49 sheets, complete coverage, published 1962-1990);
1:500,000 (162 sheets, complete coverage, published 1964-1994) and city (1:25,000) topographic mapping of Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Canos and Sao Paulo published between
1978 and 1980. These products are availabe in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
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