Latvia was mapped during the period of Soviet control in series conforming to the usual Russian specifications. 1:25,000, 1:50,000, 1:100,000 and 1:200,000 scales were maintained for the whole Republic based upon the Gauss conformal transverse cylindrical projection and with Cyrillic place names.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Latvia exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (3 sheets, complete coverage, published 1983-1989); 1:500,000 (7 sheets, complete coverage, published 1986-1993); 1:200,000 (30 sheets, complete coverage, published 1966-1992); 1:100,000 (81 sheets, complete coverage, published 1974-1990); 1:50,000 (220 sheets, primarily complete coverage, published 1964-1991) and city (1:10,000) topographic mapping of Daugavpils, Liepaja, Valmijera (Valmiera) and Yelgava (Jelgava) published between 1975 and 1990. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
After independence in 1990 the first Latvian produced mapping was derived from Soviet material. A 1:200,000 scale map in four sheets, with Latvian place names, was published in 1990 by Geodézijas un Kartografijas Departments Latvia. In 1993 the Latvian State Land Service (ZEMESPROJEKTS) was formed with responsibility for cadastral, geodetic, and topographic surveying and mapping and property valuation: four divisions carry out these functions, the state cartographic enterprise Latvijas karte publishes and prints official mapping; the National Survey Center administers data collection, the Land Cadastre Center operates cadastral surveying and land registration and the Real Property Valuation Center carries out land and property valuation activities.
Priority was given to establishing new 1:50,000 and 1:10,000 scale photogrammetric mapping, to be based upon the UTM projection. An agreement was reached in 1993 with the Swedish Space Corporation Satellitbild to create a 132-sheet 1:50,000 scale topographic map using SPOT images. This has resulted in full-color published mapping of the country as well as a digital cartographic database and name database by the end of 1996. Military cooperation is taking place between the State Land Service and the United States National Imagery and Mapping Authority (NIMA) (formerly Defense Mapping Agency). A NATO standard topographic map at 1:50,000 is being prepared from Polish 1:40,000 scale coverage. Following the success of the 1:50,000 image mapping project Swedish aid has also been used to provide 1:10,000 scale digital and orthophoto mapping of rural areas and 1:2,000 scale urban mapping systems.
The national hydrographic department is Latvijas Hidrografijas Dienests but at present Russian charts are still used in Latvian waters.
Earth science mapping of Latvia was carried out prior to independence in conjunction with Soviet authorities. The country was mapped in 1:200,000 and 1:1,000,000 programs, and 1:500,000 scale country coverage of Latvia was published in the mid-1980s by Vserossiiskoi nauchno-issledovatel’skii geologicheskii Institut (VSEGEI), St. Petersburg, to show geology, geomorphology, tectonics and quaternary geology. After independence responsibility for geological surveying passed to Latvijas Geologijas Vestis (LGV), now Valsts Geologijas Dienests (VGD) (the State Geological Survey). VGD has collaborated with Eesti Geoloogiakeskus (the Geological Survey of Estonia) to compile a bottom sediment map of the Gulf of Riga and a new 1:200,000 scale geological map of Latvia started to be published in 1998. It is planned to complete this map in nine sheets, sheets are appearing with English and Latvian legends and depict quaternary and pre-Quaternary deposits. Other programs include 1:500,000 scale geochemical mapping of on-shore areas, in conjunction with the Geological Survey of Sweden.
The Latvian Environmental Data Center holds spatial databases of digital mapping relating to air pollution, biodiversity and population, amongst other thematic spatially referenced data sets. Latvijas Dabas Fonds (The Latvian Fund for Nature) also sponsors a number of environmental research projects, including the maintenance of GIS databases relating to the Latvian environment. These include the CORINE biotopes project, prepared with financial assistance from the European Commission and part of the wider network of land cover mapping.
In 1999 Hamilton Global Management released a CD-ROM electronic atlas of Latvia incorporating updated Russian 1:200,000 scale mapping, with route planning and flexible searching capabilities. This supports English, Latvian or Russian language operation.
Cadastral mapping in Latvia has been developed since independence in cooperation with Denmark. Existing 1:10,000 scale mapping has been used to capture 24,000 parcel numbers. The Land Cadastre Center also carries out soil mapping at 1:10,000 scale.
The major commercial map publisher in Latvia, and the largest commercial house in the Baltic states is Jana Seta (JS). It was set up in 1991 and produces a comprehensive range of indexed maps of Latvian towns, road maps and atlases, tourist maps and maps for the education market. All of Jana Seta maps are also available in digital versions. Recent publications include Rigamap 90, an electronic atlas of the capital and Latvijas geografijas atlants a useful hard copy atlas of the state.
Overseas commercial publishers covering Latvia include RV, HarperCollins, and Quail.