The Lands Department (LD) is responsible for the publication of all official mapping of Hong Kong. Within the Lands Department the Survey and Mapping Office (SMO) is the central authority for all land surveys and mapping of Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Following transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997, Hong Kong was designated a Special Administrative Region and was probably the best mapped territory in Asia.
The first modern basic scale mapping was commissioned by British military authorities in the 1920s and 1930s (one of the earliest examples of a photogrammetrically derived map series). GSGS series provided medium scale coverage until the 1960s, and larger scale plane table-based plans mapped Hong Kong until the advent of photogrammetrically derived new large scale mapping from the British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS), now Ordnance Survey International (OSI). DOS also produced imperial medium scale series.
From the 1:1,000 scale information a range of smaller scale maps are derived, almost all of which are published with English and Chinese characters. 1:5,000 scale coverage with 10 m contours in 162 sheet, this series was converted into a digital specification in the mid-1990s, and digital 1:5,000 data became available by the end of 1997. 1:10,000 scale street maps have been produced for urban areas and new towns, and are also available as digital data. Two 1:15,000 scale special sheets have been photographically reduced from this source to show street names for Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Tsen Wan and Sha Tin. Other street mapping is colou-printed, such as the regularly revised 1:30,000 scale Hong Kong guide map, and the atlas Directory of streets and places.
A 1:20,000 scale topographic series in 15 sheets with a separate legend was completed in 1977. This is printed in five colors with 20 m contours, and revised on a two to five year cycle. At 1:50,000 scale there is a two sheet eight-color map, depicting relief with 50 m contours, hill shading and layer tinting, which is updated bianually and is also available as a two-color version. Single-sheet 1:100,000 and 1:200,000 scale maps are regularly updated and are available as topographic or administrative editions, and a 1:300,000 scale overview sets Hong Kong into its regional context.
In addition to these topographic maps LD issues a 1:25,000 series of countryside areas, printed double-sided and showing footpaths and leisure facilities. Small scale thematic maps are prepared for the Hong Kong annual report and are also available as separate editions to cover themes such as land use, geology, climate, communications, environmental protection and population.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Hong Kong is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published 1984-1985); 1:500,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1983); 1:200,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1980) and 1:100,000 (5 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1978). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
LD took over responsibility for mapping in 1971 and two years later it was decided to move to metric specifications. A single grid system for all Hong Kong’s mapping was adopted and was based upon the Gauss conformal projection, international ellipsoid. The current 1:1,000 basic scale (HPIC series) was started, and now gives complete coverage of the territory in 3,188 digital sheets, with 2 m contours and spot heights. This program first published sheets for urban areas, then converted other areas from existing imperial specification plans, and finally mapped an additional 240 sheets for the first time to cover the more remote islands by the end of 1997. Between 1990 and 1995 the Land Information Center of SMO captured data in a structured digital form from the (HPIC series). Data formed the geographic core of an integrated district-based land information system using ARC/INFO. Digital map revision has proved much more cost effective than earlier maintenance, and a continuous rolling program is in operation. The digital data is also sold in map sheet units, with 1:1,000 scale topographic or boundary data available.
A hydrographic agency was set up in 1994, to be responsible for the collection of charting data in Hong Kong waters. Attached to the Hong Kong Marine Department the Hong Kong Hydrographic Department (HK HYDRO) maintains three charts of the Hong Kong harbour and in 1998 produced an electronic nautical chart as a digital version of the paper product.
Aeronautical charting of Hong Kong is the responsibility of the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department.
Earth science mapping of Hong Kong is compiled by the Geotechnical Control Office (GCO), established in 1977, in conjunction with LD. A full-color 1:20,000 scale series on topographic sheet lines, depicting solid and superficial deposits was completed in 15 sheets in 1995. Brief explanations of the geology are printed on the back of the maps and more comprehensive memoirs relating to these maps are also being published. A new 1:20,000 scale solid geology map series started in 1995. GCO also produced important two-color geotechnical map sets accompanying regional volumes in the Geotechnical areas studies program. A 1:5,000 scale geological survey is also in progress, publication of sheets for solid (HGP5B) or superficial (HGP5A) geology started in 1989, concentrating upon the new airport areas.
A 1:50,000 scale vegetation map of the territory is published by the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Planning Department publishes planning layout and zonation maps.
Petroleum News Southeast Asia produces hydrocarbon mapping of the region.
There is a thriving commercial mapping sector in Hong Kong. A number of different firms produce town maps, including Universal Publications, and Periplus. Universal’s range comprises bilingual town and tourist maps of Hong Kong and adjacent Chinese cities. Other firms specialize in maps of mainland China. These include Geocarto International Center, established in 1986, who compile remotely sensed data and image products, including an image map of Hong Kong and a comparative atlas of space images from different platforms covering Hong Kong and the Pearl River delta. Other distributors of Chinese mapping include PRS Publications, and Asian Research Service.
Western agencies producing town maps of the city include Berndtson and Berndtson (B&B), Nelles Verlag, International Travel Maps (ITM), Vancouver, and Rand McNally.
The Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD) collects census and other socio-economic statistics relating to the Special Administrative Region. The latest census was taken in 1996. HKCSD publishes tabulated data and also issues boundary maps relating to district board and constituency areas (22 maps) and to tertiary planning units (five maps). Digital versions of these geo-demographic and boundary data are issued by Huang Kuan and Associates who also specialize in vector data relating to census information and county and city boundaries of the People’s Republic. They also produce a range of CD-ROM-based electronic atlases of Hong Kong including ArcView-based Supermap Hong Kong 1996.