The national mapping organization in Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Mapping Agency (EMA). It is responsible for geodetic and photogrammetric surveying, remote sensing, mapping and geographic services, publishes topographic and thematic maps of the country and was first established in 1954.

Ethiopia has a cover of 1:250,000 scale topographic maps, compiled from 1:50,000 scale wide-angle aerial photography flown in an American aid project between 1963 and 1967. The resulting maps were issued between 1971 and 1976 on the UTM projection with 100 m contours. Ninety-five sheets were published each covering one and a half degrees longitude by one degree latitude with 16 for each International map of the World quadrangle. These maps are now published in four-colour versions, but were originally available as six-colour editions. Since 1993 EMA has been engaged in a digital revision program for the 30 most important sheets in this series.

1:50,000 scale coverage of Ethiopia is also progressing. Areas to the south of Addis Ababa were mapped in the early 1970s at this scale in a joint project with the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (now Ordnance Survey International (OSI)). These quarter-degree sheets showed relief with 20 m contours and were subsequently adopted as the national standard. After the end of the British aid project the series has progressed with UN and Swedish aid, and the long term involvement of Swedesurvey continues to assist in the many aspects of EMA work. New aerial coverage has been flown since 1980 concentrating upon areas of economic importance and maps have been published for these areas. Coverage is best in the south and west of the country, 1,580 sheets are required for complete national coverage, and about 50 percent of Ethiopia was mapped at 1:50,000 by 1996. About 50 maps a year were being revised in this series in the mid-1990s. An ARC/INFO-based digital mapping system has been tested by EMA and the introduction of digital data capture and production is speeding up production for both topographic series.

EMA also publishes 1:1,000,000 scale coverage, on IMW sheet lines, and a single-sheet 1:2,000,000 scale map. It issued the national atlas in 1988, incorporating 1:5,000,000 scale full-colour maps on a wide variety of themes. This includes a basic gazetteer, and work on a more detailed national gazetteer is well in progress. Other mapping of the country includes larger-scale project maps for irrigation and hydroelectric work, as well as administrative mapping. Over 100 towns are covered in large-scale plans, and a city guide map is issued for Addis Ababa.

Soviet military topographic mapping for Ethiopia exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (10 sheets, complete coverage, published 1953-1984); 1:500,000 (28 sheets, complete coverage, published 1963-1983); 1:200,000 (175 sheets, complete coverage, published 1977-1983); 1:100,000 (625 sheets, complete coverage, published 1977-1982) and a city (1:10,000) topographic map of Addis Ababa published in 1978. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.

The Ethiopian Geological Survey (EGS) was established as a separate department in 1968 and is responsible for official earth science research in Ethiopia, including geological, geochemical, geophysical and hydrogeological surveying and the publication of hard copy and digital earth science maps. About 25 percent of the country is mapped at 1:250,000 scale in a series started in the 1970s, using topographic sheet lines, with best coverage in northern, western and southern parts of this country. A regional geochemical mapping program was started in 1995 parallel to the geological series. Other maps are published at 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 scales for a few areas of the country. The 1:2,000,000 scale geological map was compiled by the Italian Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). Digital geophysical data is released for many areas in digital vector GIS format.

Thematic coverage has also been prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, with eight sheet series at 1:1,000,000 scale for geomorphology and soils, land resources, agro-climatology, land use/cover and land resources. Furthermore, 11 climatic and crop production themes have been prepared at 1:2,000,000 scale.

Other thematic mapping of parts of Ethiopia has been carried out by overseas agencies. These include geological mapping of the Afar and Rift Valley areas from the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and resources mapping compiled by the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys and published by the Land Resources Development Centre (LRDC), (now National Resources Institute (NRI)). The LRDC mapping is still available and includes forest inventory coverage in the southwest of the country, irrigation potential mapping of the Lake Zwai area and 1:1,000,000 scale development potential maps of the southern Rift Valley areas. The Swiss University of Berne Institute of Geography has also compiled resources mapping of the Simien mountains and has published results of a recent project with the Soil Conservation Research Programme in Addis Ababa, which has included 1:1,000,000 coverage of agro-ecological zones, available as three sheets or a single-wall map.

Amongst the other mapping agencies in the country are the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) whose headquarters are located in Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Tourist Commission publishes a 1:2,000,000 scale tourist map of the country, printed double-sided with a town map of Addis Ababa on the back. Amongst the foreign agencies with small scale coverage of Ethiopia are Cartographia, International Travel Maps (ITM) and New Holland.

Statistical mapping of Ethiopia is carried out by the Central Statistical Office, which was engaged in the late 1990s in the compilation of a nine volume national statistical atlas.

Copyright © 2014 De Gruyter for e-version of World Mapping Today, 2nd Edition | Copyright © 2019 East View Geospatial, Inc.

Return to Country List