Modern mapping of Papua New Guinea was established by Australian agencies in the years leading up to independence in 1975 and Australian bilateral agreements continue to fund development of basic mapping of the country after independence. The National Mapping Bureau (NMB) is the official mapping agency, but following completion in 1981 of basic scale 1:100,000 scale mapping there has been little further topographic mapping progress. The 1:100,000 series is published on very similar specifications to Australian national mapping: it is a five-color map using the Transverse Mercator projection, and depicts relief with 40 m contours. Mainland areas are based upon Australian Geodetic Datum, offshore islands use the World Geodetic System 1972, the series was compiled from 1:80,000 to 1:100,000 scale aerial coverage and is complete in 280 sheets. A 1:250,000 scale map is also published by NMB and conforms to JOG specifications with UTM grid and 200 m contours (50 m in lowland areas). This covers Papua New Guinea in 73 sheets. Larger scale topographic coverage is also available for some areas of the country, 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 scale mapping is maintained for the capital area and for parts of Bougainville and New Ireland.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Papua New Guinea is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (10 sheets, complete coverage, published 1952-1976) and 1:500,000 (8 sheets, partial country coverage, published 1963-1964). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
The national hydrographic agency is the Department of Transport Maritime Division, but charting of Papuan waters is still carried out in conjunction with the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service (RANHS) which is responsible for the publication of nautical charting of the area.
The Department of Mining and Petroleum (DMP) is responsible for the monitoring of the mining and petroleum industry in Papua New Guinea, and maintains data holdings covering seismic, gravity and aeromagnetic surveys, regional geological mapping and geochemical and age-dating databases. Most of the available geological mapping of the country was published in the 1970s and 1980s. This includes complete coverage at 1:250,000, a series which is being revised on an ad hoc basis from data supplied from regional geological mapping and from mineral exploration activities. 1:100,000 scale mapping is also published for some areas. Work is about to start on a joint project with the Australian Geological Survey (AGSO) to create a seamless digital data set based upon these two series. 1:1,000,000 scale coverage of the country in four maps has recently been digitized in a project funded through the Coordinating Committee for Coastal and Offshore Geoscience Geology (CCOP).
Other small scale mapping is also maintained, including a four-sheet road map produced for the Department of Transport and Works, and 1:500,000 scale thematic mapping, offering full color coverage of Papua New Guinea in 18 sheets, with published themes comprising vegetation and resources, geology and terrain, settlement and communication, and cross country movements.
Thematic mapping of Papua New Guinea was compiled in the 1970s and 1980s by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). This includes 1:250,000 scale land systems mapping, as well as 1:1,000,000 scale themes. CSIRO established a resources GIS for Papua New Guinea, to provide a MapInfo-based national inventory of soil, vegetation and land use. The Department of Primary Industry (now the Land Utilization Section in the Department of Agriculture and Livestock) inherited these programs and also prepared soils mapping of the country in the 1980s. The Department of Environment and Conservation is building a nation-wide database of biodiversity resources.
The majority of NMB work is concerned with the establishment of a digital cadastral land registration system, which is replacing urban 1:4,000 scale mapping and rural 1:50,000 black and white boundaries editions.
Universal and Hema and Robert Brown and Associates have published small scale commercial mapping of Papua New Guinea for the tourist market. Amongst the commercial mapping organizations is Gordan and Gotch Pty which distributes a number of Australian tourist maps of PNG.