Formerly a Dutch colony, Suriname became independent in 1975. Systematic mapping of the colony began after World War II, following the acquisition of air photo cover of the area north of the 4° parallel flown by KLM Aerocarto in 1947. The present topographic mapping authority is the Centraal Bureau Luchtkartering (CBL), Paramaribo, established in 1948.
From 1949, the first topographic sheets were published at the scale of 1:40,000. These covered only the northern half of the country, and were based on controlled photo-mosaics constructed from the KLM photography, which was also at this scale. Initially these mainly monochrome maps were on a stereographic projection, Bessel ellipsoid. A 1:100,000 scale series was also initiated and this was extended to the south of the country following acquisition of aerial photography of this area in the late 1950s. This series was printed in monochrome for the north and in three colors for the area south of the 4° parallel. A series of derived 1:200,000 scale maps was published between 1960 and 1966.
In the 1960s, it was decided to undertake a new primary triangulation network and re-mapping program. The 1:40,000 scale series was, therefore, terminated. The new triangulation and levelling were completed over the period 1968-78. New photography was also flown at scales of 1:30,000 in the flatter areas and 1:55,000 in the mountains and a new series of 1:50,000 scale maps was issued, beginning in 1978. They cover over half of the country, mainly in the north, and are on a modified Transverse Mercator projection, International (Hayford) ellipsoid.
Soviet military topographic mapping exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published 1966-1984) and 1:500,000 (8 sheets, complete coverage, published 1967-1987). These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
Geological mapping has been undertaken by the Geologische Mijnbouwkundige Dienst (GMD), Parimaribo, established in 1943. The basic scale adopted for geological mapping was 1:100,000, with maps produced primarily for internal use, although a number of monographic maps at scales of 1:100,000 and 1:200,000 have been published as part of the Mededelingen series of GMD. A series of five 1:100,000 scale geological sheets covering the northeast of the country was also published in the 1950s. Aeromagnetic maps were prepared in 1960-65 by the Aero Service Corporation at scales ranging from 1:40,000 to 1:500,000. The best modern geological synthesis is provided by the 1:500,000 scale map published in 1977 and described in Contributions to the geology of Suriname.
Soil mapping was pioneered in the 1950s by J.J. van der Eyck, and in 1958 the Dienst Bodemkartering (DBK) was established. A small reconnaissance soil map was published in 1963, and this was followed by reconnaissance soil surveys of north Suriname with sheets published at scales of 1:500,000; 1:200,000 and 1:100,000. The 1:200,000 scale maps extend the cover southwards to the 4° parallel.
A Reconnaissance map of the Surinam lowland ecosystems at a scale of 1:200,000 was published in 1978 in The Netherlands. It is in seven sheets plus a legend sheet, and is printed in 10 colors. It covers the coastal plain and savanna belt, and incorporates vegetation, soil and land use data.
In 1988, the Suriname planatlas was published by the National Planning Office of Suriname, Stichting Plan-bureau Suriname (SPS) with the technical assistance of the Organization of American States (OAS), Washington, DC. This is similar in concept to a national atlas and contains 25 plates of maps, many at the scale of 1:1,500,000 or 1:1,000,000 for the north, covering themes of physical geography, population, transport and economic activities and resources. The texts are in Dutch and English.
The capital city, Paramaribo, was mapped by CBL in the late 1950s at 1:1,000 scale and in 1963, a six-sheet map at 1:5,000 and a single sheet at 1:12,500 were issued. Currently, maps of Paramaribo at scales of 1:25,000; 1:10,000; 1:12,500 and 1:5,000 are published by CBL. A city street map was published in 1978 by the commercial publisher VACO NV. Tourist maps of the country have been published by Uitgeverij HEBRI International (HEBRI) and by International Travel Maps (ITM).