Prior to independence in 1960, the British Directorate of
Overseas Surveys (DOS) (now Ordnance Survey International
(OSI)) and the Federal Survey Department (FSD), Lagos
(founded in 1900) had carried out mapping activities in
Nigeria, and partial coverage had been achieved at scales of
1:50,000 and 1:100,000. FSD now has responsibility for
maintaining and improving the geodetic control of the
country, for topographic mapping at the basic scales of
1:25,000 and 1:50,000, and for smaller scale mapping. It is
also undertaking township mapping of all the state capitals
and other strategic cities.
Most of the map base now dates from after independence,
and the basic scales are 1:50,000, extending the work done
by the DOS in the 1950s, and 1:25,000, introduced as a
new National Basic Topographic Map in the 1980s. Progress
of the latter series stalled however, and only about 5 percent
of the country has been mapped at this scale.
The 1:50,000 scale series began as part of a complementary
series to 1:100,000 scale mapping, and shares the sheet
numbering of the latter with the addition of a compass point.
There are 1,352 sheets in the series, each normally covering
a quarter-degree. The projection was originally a modified
Transverse Mercator, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid (modified), but
has recently changed to UTM. Metrication of the contours,
originally at 25 ft or 50 ft intervals, has been in progress
since 1982. Completion of the series has been aided by
Canada; some sheets are in photomap or planimetric form
but most are in a regular, five-color edition. Nineteen sheets
of the Lake Chad Basin Commission photomap series also
fall within Nigeria.
The 1:100,000 scale series was initiated by DOS in the
1950s and extended by FSD during the 1960s and 1970s
to provide substantial cover in five-color, half-degree sheets
with 100 ft contours. There is also a 1:250,000 scale series,
derived from the larger-scale topographic maps; sheets cover
one degree and have 100 ft contours. A 1:500,000 scale series
in 33 sheets was completed in the 1960s, followed by new editions.
Over the last decade, Nigeria has improved and densified
geodetic control with the aid of GPS, and has established a
gravity network. The use of SPOT satellite imagery to
update 1:50,000 scale mapping has been investigated, and
the National Population Commission has used imagery to
produce line maps for the 1991 census. Fast developing areas
were mapped in the 1980s at 1:25,000 scale. Digital conversion of
1:25,000 scale maps was carried out in a pilot study in 1994,
and the revision and metrication program of the 1:50,000
scale will include digital conversion of all these maps.
Topographic mapping made good progress during pre-independence
and continued to the mid-1970s with the oil
boom. This was followed by a hiatus due to the severe turndown
in the country's economy at that time. Many overseas
mapping contracts had to be cancelled, and there were no
funds to reprint existing maps. Notwithstanding the recent
progress described above, the topographic series have
remained very difficult to obtain, and some have also been
restricted by the FSD.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Nigeria is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (9 sheets, complete coverage, published 1983-1986);
1:500,000 (21 sheets, complete coverage, published 1980-1985); 1:200,000 (144 sheets, complete coverage, published 1979-1982) and city (1:10,000) topographic
maps of Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri and Oshogbo published between 1977 and 1983. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS
formats from East View Geospatial.
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