Topographic mapping in Bolivia is the responsibility of the Instituto Geográfico Militar (IGMB), La Paz.  Although it was founded in 1936, detailed topographic mapping did not get under way until the post-war period, mainly under the stimulus of the Agrarian Reform Act which resulted in the establishment of a National Planning Secretariat.  In 1948, a joint mapping agreement was signed with the Inter-American Geodetic Survey and, following the establishment of a triangulation and levelling network, a 1:50,000 scale topographic series was initiated and the first sheets published in 1955.  In the 1960s, IGMB was provided with modern air survey and photogrammetric equipment.  The organization is a technical branch of the army, but is also now responsible for maintaining the cadastral archive.  It produces topographic and urban maps, thematic maps and aeronautical charts.

The basic 1:50,000 scale series is a five-color map with 20 m contours and is now about 70 percent complete.  Each sheet covers an area of 10 minutes of latitude and 15 minutes of longitude. Cover is most extensive in the southern half of the country and in the most northerly area.  The 1:250,000 scale series is in six colors with 100 m contours, and also covers all but the central part of the country.  Three sheets are also available with a satellite image base.  Sheets each cover 1° latitude and 1° 30′ longitude.  Until recently, these were the principal topographic series, although a 1:100,000 scale made a brief debut in 1980 (Series H631) with the publication of 9 sheets. In 1990, a new series of 1:100,000 scale topographic maps was launched (Series H632), published by the United States Defense Mapping Agency (now National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)).  Progress of this series has been rapid with one-third of the country already covered.  These sheets are in five colors with contours at intervals varying from 20 m to 80 m.  The projection for all these topographic series is Transverse Mercator, International (Hayford) ellipsoid, and the maps have a UTM grid. New 1:50,000 scale sheets of the Quiquive River area have been completed by the Japanese overseas aid agency, JICA, using air photography flown in 1993.

The 1:250,000 scale map (series H531) now covers all but the central part of the country.  These sheets are on the usual 1° x 1°30′ format, and are printed in six colors, with 100 m contours. Three sheets are also available with a satellite image base.  IGMB has also published a number of departmental maps, mostly at scales of 1:500,000 or 1:250,000, and urban maps of La Paz, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Tarija, Trinidad, Ciudad de Potosi and Viacha.

Soviet military topographic mapping of Bolivia exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (10 sheets, complete coverage, published 1978-1985); 1:500,000 (30 sheets, complete coverage, published 1976-1983); 1:200,000 (23 sheets, primarily southwestern country coverage, published 1980-1981) and a city (1:10,000) topographic map of La Paz published in 1977.  These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.

A number of IGMB maps have been digitized.  The maps include the 1:250,000 topographic series; the 1:1,000,000 Mapa físico and Mapa político, and the 1:15 ,00 Mapa topográfico de La Paz.

Geological and mineral resource surveys are carried out by the Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (SERGE- OMIN), La Paz.  In the 1960s a regular series of 1:100,000 scale geological maps was initiated, and about 50 sheets were published during that decade in the southwest of the country.  After a hiatus, new sheets have been published at this scale during the 1990s with Spanish and Swedish aid, and a new project, Projecto BID-USGS-GEOBOL has been started with the Inter-American Development Bank and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).  More than 50 sheets have so far been published in this 1:100,000 scale “new series”.  These sheets text in Spanish and English printed in the map margin.

Between 1976 and 1986, a cooperative undertaking with the British Geological Survey (BGS) in eastern Bolivia, Proyecto Precámbrico resulted in the production of 15 published full color sheets at 1:250,000 scale as the (DOS 1224), and a 1:1,000,000 general sheet of the whole area was accompanied by an Overseas Memoir, The geology and mineral resources of the Bolivian Precambrian Shield by M. Litherland.  A 1:1,000,000 geochemical atlas of eastern Bolivia by J.D. Appleton and A. Llanos was published in 1985, and is available either complete or as separate 1:1,000,000 scale sheets.

In the mid-1970s, the Centro de Investigación y Aplicación de Sensores Remotos (CAISER) was established within SERGEOMIN to apply satellite image processing technology to resource survey.  A number of maps were produced in the late 1970s.  They included a 1:1,000,000 land cover map, a map of terrain types based on multispectral LANDSAT imagery, and some experimental digital 1:50,000 scale soil maps also based on LANDSAT.  These were part of the Programa ERTS Bolivia (PEB).

SERGEOMIN has completed a number of multi-theme mineral resource studies at 1:250,000 scale, designated Mapas temáticos de recursos minerales de Bolivia.  The maps show mining concessions, geology, tectonics, mineral occurrences and potential areas for mineral prospecting.  A new 1:2,500,000 geological map is also planned.

A national Atlas de Bolivia was originally published in 1985, containing a wide range of thematic mapping, as well as general and departmental maps.  Numerous LANDSAT image maps were also a feature of this atlas. A second edition was published in 1997.

Bolivia has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists and for mountaineers, and recently, some good quality commercially published maps have become available for these visitors.  High quality topographic maps have been published in the Alpenvereinskarte series from the Deutscher Alpenverein, covering the Cordillera Real north (Illampu) and south (Illimani) issued in 1987 and 1990.  A new map of the Cordillera Real de los Andes 1:135,000 scale has been produced by L.P.O’Brien, based on the IGMB/NIMA topographic maps.  A small-scale travel map of the whole country has also been published by O’Brien, and small-scale educational maps are published by Walter Guzman Cordova.  Good quality street maps of several cities are produced by Quipus and IGMB.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INEB) is responsible for organizing the demographic census and has produced a number of urban plans, most of which are rather dared, but include a series at 1:5,000 scale from 1983 covering La Paz.  For rural areas, INEB has produced a series of 1:50,000 scale maps of cantons. Maps have been updated in preparation for the 2000 census, using satellite imagery.

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