The largest of the Central American countries, detailed mapping of Nicaragua, was initiated in 1946 with the signing
of an agreement with the Inter-American Geodetic Survey (IAGS) to establish geodetic control for a national survey,
with the foundation of an Office of Geodesy, subsequently becoming the Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN),
Managua. Mapping now falls within the remit of the Instituto Nicaragϋense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER).
In 1954, complete air photo cover of the Pacific western part
of the country was flown by the USAAF, and this formed
the basis for the first photogrammetric mapping. A basic
series at 1:50,000 scale (Series E751) was published progressively
from 1956 by the US Defense Mapping Agency
(DMA), now National Imagery and Mapping Agency
(NIMA)) and was almost complete when the DMA/IAGS
pulled out in 1981.
During the Sandinista government, mapping was put under
military control, and was not released to the public. During
this period, the government received mapping aid from Cuba
and the USSR, who flew new air photo cover and used this
to update and complete the series.
With the establishment of the post-Sandinista government,
the mapping authority returned in 1991 to civilian status
under the Ministry of Construction and Transport. At the
same time the 1:50,000 scale map was made unrestricted.
The series retains the format and basic specification of the
DMA series, with sheets each covering 10 minutes of latitude
by 15 minutes of longitude. Projection and grid are
UTM, Clarke 1866 ellipsoid, and contours are at 20 m intervals.
The map has, however, been updated and sheets carry
an extensive legend with particular attention given to land
use and vegetation.
A 1:250,000 scale DMA series covering the country in 12
sheets (Series E503) was first published in the 1960s. A second edition appeared in 1980-82 and
the series was updated in 1996-97. A 1:525,000 scale general map of the country was published
by INETER in 1995. This is on the UTM projection with
200 m interval contours. 1:100,000 scale planimetric mapping (Series E651), began in the 1950s by the DMA,
covered mainly the Pacific west of the country. A few 1:25,000 scale sheets (Series E851) in the area of Managua
were also published and a series of large-scale cadastral maps is in progress.
In addition to the conventional mapping, radar maps were
compiled in the 1970s, using SLAR imagery flown by
Westinghouse Electric Corporation which was then converted
into 1:100,000 scale mosaics by Hunting Surveys, Toronto.
These were used to create interpretative maps of land cover,
geomorphology and geology. A 1:250,000 scale land use map
(Uso de suelo) interpreted from LANDSAT imagery was produced
with the aid of the Italian company Geomap and
published in 12 sheets in 1983. Water quality mapping
of the Pacific coast has been undertaken in collaboration
with the German aid organization GTZ. A further recent cooperative
initiative between Germany and the Ministerio de
Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales (MARENA) is a
project concerned with environmental planning and conservation
(Proyecto BOSAWAS MARENA-GTZ).
Soviet military topographic mapping of Nicaragua exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1990);
1:500,000 (7 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1985) and 1:200,000 (27 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1984).
These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
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