Puerto Rico is a self-governing Commonwealth in union
with the United States. Both topographic and geological
mapping have been undertaken by the United States
Geological Survey (USGS) in association with the Puerto
The modern topographic mapping forms part of the regular
USGS program, although the basic scale used is 1:20,000
instead of the more usual 1:24,000 characteristic of most US
states. The scale originally chosen was 1:30,000 and a complete
series at this scale was published, but the 1:20,000 scale
was adopted in the 1950s and only the sheets covering the
islands of Culebra and Vieques are still at 1:30,000. The
64 sheets which cover the main island conform to the 7.5-minute
quadrangle format of USGS mapping and are on a
Polyconic projection, Clarke 1866 ellipsoid. The sheets are
in three colors with 1 m, 5 m or 10 m contour intervals,
and show municipal and barrio boundaries as well as the usual
cultural detail. The first photogrammetrically produced
1:20,000 scale sheets were issued in 1957 and the series was
completed in 1972. Subsequent photorevision of most sheets
was carried out in 1982. Since 1988, the USGS has developed
a geographical information system for Puerto Rico, and
the 1:20,000 topographic maps have been digitized to form
a basis for this system. Soil, geology, land use and ground
water data have also been entered into the system.
Derived maps have been published by the USGS at scales
of 1:120,000 and 1:240,000. They are in Spanish, and available
in two-color base or five-color topographic versions.
The later has contours at 50 m or 100 m according to scale,
and there is also a shaded relief version of the 1:240,000
Soviet military topographic mapping of Puerto Rico is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published 1963-1966);
1:500,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1979) and 1:200,000 (7 sheets, complete coverage, published 1976-1983). These products are available in print,
digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
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