Jamaica, independent from the United Kingdom since 1962, has its own Survey Department (JSD) at Kingston, which has worked in cooperation with the former British Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) (now Ordnance Survey International (OSI)) and other agencies in the topographic mapping of the country. In addition to topographic survey, JSD is responsible for hydrographic survey and control of the cadastral plans to ensure the integrity of the land registration system.
The original 1:50,000 scale map of Jamaica was the first major mapping project of the Directorate of Colonial Surveys, as it was originally called when established in 1946, and it was based on work done before and immediately after World War II by the Royal Marine Survey Company. The provisional edition of this map was issued in 1952-53 (DCS 1) and was followed by several regular editions (DOS 410), but in spite of its scale it remained a feet and inches map.
The current metric edition (Series 1, E725) in 20 sheets is printed in process colours and was issued between 1982 and 1991. It was prepared jointly by JSD and DOS and was based on air photography flown in 1968 and 1980. Contours are at 20 m intervals up to 80 m and thereafter at 40 m. The map distinguishes many vegetation types, including the various kinds of plantation agriculture. The Jamaica metric grid is shown, and there is a version with overprinted UTM grid. Currently, a digital specification for the 1:50,000 scale topographic maps is being prepared.
The modern basic scale mapping is a contoured series at 1:12,500 initiated in 1970 (Ja/DOS 201). Contours are at 25 ft intervals. The projection is a Lambert conical orthomorphic and the ellipsoid is Clarke 1880. Recently these 235 sheets have been converted to digital map data using ARC/ INFO and have also been converted to metric measurements. Contours are not yet available.
Other large scale mapping includes a 1:5,000 scale series begun in 1963, and 1:1,250 and 1:2,500 scale maps of some areas. Kingston is covered by a 1:10,000 scale contoured map in six sheets with an additional special sheet of the central area.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Jamaica exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (2 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1963); 1:500,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published 1983-1987) and 1:200,000 (5 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1982). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
The Mines and Geology Division (MGD) is responsible for geological mapping and mineral prospecting. The country has been mapped in a 1:50,000 scale geological series initiated by the Directorate of Overseas Surveys in cooperation with MGD in 1972, the latter supplying the geological information and the former the topographic base. A single-sheet 1:250,000 scale geological map was published by the DOS in 1959, but has been superseded by a new monochrome edition by N. McFarlane in 1977 and a new color edition published in 1986. Currently a re-survey of the 1:50,000 scale series is in progress. Other publications include a geotechnical map published in 1983 and a geochemical atlas published in 1993. A series of metallic mineral surveys was conducted in the 1980s and more recently some structural and geophysical mapping has taken place.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a Soil Survey Unit. 1:250,000 soil and land cover maps were issued in 1985 and 1987 respectively.
A special 1:25,000 scale map of Montego Bay was published by DOS in 1971 (DOS 301/1).
In progress is the creation of a cadastral index by digitizing 20,000 valuation plans. This program was expected to reach completion in 1998.
Single sheet maps of Jamaica, usually at or near 1:250,000 scale, are published both by JSD and by several commercial map publishers, including International Travel Maps (ITM), Macmillan, Karto+Grafik and Berndtson and Berndtson (B&B).