A survey department was established by the British in Cairo in 1898 and was renamed the Survey of Egypt in 1919. Official topographic mapping of Egypt had started in 1909 with series compiled at 1:25,000 scale serving as a source for 1:100,000 scale mapping of the Nile Valley. 1:100,000 was the largest scale for other settled parts of the country. These series were all based upon ground survey with very inadequate depiction of relief and by the 1950s about 50 percent of the country was covered. In 1954 the Military Survey Department was set up as a separate agency, with the Survey of Egypt subsequently taking responsibility for all aspects of civilian production. The two organizations have collaborated in the production of new topographic series based upon photogrammetric methods and a new mapping framework was started in 1959 using sub-divisions of the International map of the World. Four 1:500,000, 24 1:250,000, 16 1:50,000 and 64 1:25,000 scale sheets comprise a single 1:1,000,000 scale map.
The current national mapping authority was reformed in 1971 as the Egyptian Survey Authority (ESA) and incorporates all aspects of official surveying and mapping into a single organization. Current responsibilities include the establishment and maintenance of a modern geodetic network, cadastral surveying and mapping, acting as the national land authority responsible for taxation and registration, as well as topographic surveying and mapping.
The basic scale for many developed areas of the country is 1:25,000, which covers the Nile Delta, the Red Sea Coast, Oases and the Suez Canal in about 600 six-color photogrammetric sheets. 1:50,000 scale mapping is, however, the main mapping priority. There are currently about 450 published sheets. The majority of these have been produced using conventional analogue methods, either by derivation from 1:25,000 scale coverage or direct from aerial photographs, but from 1992 a digital production flow line has been established and new ARC/INFO-based mapping is appearing for some areas. Coverage of this series is extending from agricultural areas into desert regions with development potential. Aerial coverage of the eastern desert was flown in the late 1980s with British, Canadian and French aid, and a Finnish aid project has funded the extension of geodetic control in this area. 1:80,000 scale aerial coverage is used as a source for map compilation. 1:100,000 scale mapping extends to about half the country (including the Sinai Peninsula) and there is complete coverage at 1:500,000 and 1:1,000,000 scales. These topographic maps all have Arabic text.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Egypt is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (7 sheets, complete coverage, published 1973-1990); 1:500,000 (25 sheets, complete coverage, published 1972-1990); 1:200,000 (179 sheets, complete coverage, published 1969-1988); 1:100,000 (625, mostly complete coverage, published 1977-1987); 1:50,000 (37 sheets, primarily north-eastern coverage, published 1991-1993) and city (1:10,000 and 1:25,000) topographic mapping of 23 major cities from Alexandria to Zagazig, published between 1972 and 1984. These products are available in paper, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
Substantial investment has taken place in the 1990s in setting up a modernized geodetic framework for the country. A project funded through the US Agency for International Development has installed a primary GPS network covering all the developed parts of the country and pilot extensions to support Land Information Systems have been developed in Upper Egypt. The second phase of the American project involves the adoption of the WGS84 datum and the UTM grid.
The Sinai Peninsula was mapped by Israeli agencies during its occupancy.
Between 1981 and 1987 an aid project funded through the German SFB 69 program and organized from the Technische Fachhochschule Berlin used image analysis to update topographic coverage. Topographic information was merged with LANDSAT image data to produce 1:1,000,000; 1:500,000; 1:250,000 and 1:100,000 scale mapping. Eighty geometrically corrected image-supported working sheets giving complete coverage of the country were published by the Egyptian General Petroleum Company.
The Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) operates its environmental GIS and remote sensing programs from headquarters in Giza Cairo. The Soil Water and Environment Research Institute (SWERI) Cairo maintains a national digital agricultural land information system for Egypt. Seven 1:100,000 scale maps are output for each governate, since 1997 SPOT Image France has been implementing a second phase to the project, which has the aim of developing the information system to allow more desert land to be reclaimed for irrigated agriculture. Other small-scale thematic mapping of Egypt has been published in the Tϋbinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO).
The Egyptian navigation and hydrographic department Shobat Al Misaha al Baharia was established in 1951 and maintains about 30 charts covering local coastal waters, with more detailed coverage of ports.
Geological mapping of Egypt is carried out by the Geological Survey and Mining Authority (EGSMA). They too have used image mapping as a means of generating earth science coverage and produced 1:1,000,000 mapping of the country in conjunction with the Egyptian Remote Sensing Center (ERSC) in Cairo. The full-color series in six sheets on IMW sheetlines depicts geology, structural lineaments and drainage. Larger scale programs available on the international market include 1:250,000 and 1:500,000 scale series. Sinai was mapped by Israeli earth science agencies when the peninsula was under Israeli control.
Commercial mapping of Egypt is published by Lehnart & Landrock, who issue a range of town maps, as well as co-publishing maps of Egypt and Sinai with Swiss commercial house Kϋmmerly + Frey (K+F). Palm Press, Cairo also issues town mapping of the city including a regularly revised and indexed English language A-Z street-finder.
Many other western commercial mapping organizations compile general and tourist maps of Egypt, notably HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, Macmillan, Freytag-Berndt, and Nelles Verlag. GEOprojects, and Cartographia publish town mapping of Cairo in addition to their national tourist coverage.