Topographic mapping in Sweden began as a military concern in the early nineteenth century, and a series of maps covering southern Sweden at 1:100,000 scale and northern Sweden at 1:200,000 was completed in 1919. In 1937 a new civilian Geographic Survey Office was created to take charge of both military and civilian mapping requirements. In 1974, this Office was merged with the Land Survey Board to form the National Land Survey (Landmäteriverket (LMV)). Further important structural changes took place in 1996 following the merging of LMV with the Central Board for Real Estate Data (Centralnämnden för fastighetsdata). LMV now has three principal divisions: Cadastral Services, Land and Geographic Information Services, and Metria, the commercial department.

Today, LMV publishes official maps within the scale range 1:20,000 and 1:1,200,000, while more detailed planimetric maps of built-up areas are produced by municipal authorities. There are four principal LMV series, identified by the colors yellow, green, blue and red. The most detailed is the Gula kartan (yellow map) published at the scale of 1:20,000. This originated as the Ekonomiska kartan (economic map) introduced in the late 1930s as a photomap published at the scale of 1:10,000 (1:20,000 in inner Norrland), and intended to cover about half the country. Initially photomosaics formed the basis of this map, but from 1966 orthophotos were used. The economic map was designed to serve a variety of planning applications and also to be used as a cadastral map. The series was completed only in 1978, but in a revised form bringing it into line with the modern geodetic system and grid used for the topographic maps. In the 1980s, it was decided to produce a version of the economic map reduced to 1:20,000 scale and in six colors. This Gula kartan has been replacing the printed edition of the larger scale map, and by 1998, eight counties had complete cover. The current series uses photogrammetric data capture for the overlays which are printed on a colored orthophoto base. The map is contoured at 5 m intervals, and arable land is shown in yellow with forest in shades of green. Gula kartan is now produced on a completely digital production line and a digital database has been developed for the map, with a consequential simplification of content and design. In 1999 a complete digital orthophoto cover of the country with 1 m resolution was achieved.

The principal topographic map is the green map (Gröna kartan) at 1:50,000 scale. It covers about 80 percent of the country, the remainder, in the north, being at 1:100,000 scale. The first version of this map began to appear from 1953 and several new versions have been produced since then. The latest version, T5, was launched in 1990 with a completely new specification. It is in six colors (earlier versions were in four) with arable land shown in yellow, and low and high-rise built-up areas also distinguished as well as industrial and residential areas. Contour interval is 5 m or 10 m and the sheets carry the UTM grid. Most sheets are in a 50 cm × 50 cm format. The series consists now of 619 sheets, including about 30 sheets in a special mountain version for the mountain areas of Jämtland and Härjedal.

The 1:100,000 scale Blå kartan (blue map) is primarily a road map, with a nine-category road classification and with priority given to keeping the road network up-to-date. The first regular edition sheet of this series was published in 1985 and the series was completed in 1991. A full revision began in 1990, and from 1993 the revised sheets have also been digitized. In southern Sweden the series comprises 84 sheets mainly in a 75 cm x 50 cm format, while in part of northern Sweden, a provisional series photo-reduced from the 1:50,000 map has been published. These sheets have a five-category road classification. Contours are at 5 m or 10 m intervals.

A special series of mountain maps (Fjällkartan) in 24 overlapping sheets extends down the mountain chain hugging and crossing the Norwegian border. These sheets are adapted for trail walking and are being progressively based on the new digital 1:100,000 scale database. They are printed in up to eight colors and some sheets include text on the reverse. Publication of the latest version of these maps began in 1997, and sheets will be revised at intervals of two to five years.

The 1:250,000 Roda kartan (red map) was introduced under that name in 1983. This is primarily a road map, with roads defined by national road classification and width. It includes contours at 25 m or 50 m intervals. The legend is in Swedish and English. Between 1996 and 1998, a new edition of 21 sheets was published. A new travel and tourist version in six sheets (the northern sheets at 1:400,000 scale) was published in 1998. There are also series of county maps in standard and tourist (Äventyrs kartan) versions, based on the Roda kartan.

Smaller scale maps from LMV include three sheets covering northern Sweden at 1:500,000 scale, a set of three maps at 1:1,000,000 in the International map of the World specification, a general map of the country available at 1:1,000,000 or 1:1,200,000, and a map of Northern Europe at 1:2,000,000 scale. LMV has also produced, for the national atlas, a 1:700,000 scale general map with automated hill shading. This is also available as a separate map in two sheets.

The current Swedish topographic maps are all on the Gauss conformal projection, Bessel ellipsoid. Almost all production at LMV is now digital with databases established to correspond to the four principal map scales. A national geographic database is being developed known as GGD (Grundläggande geografisk databas) incorporating the basic scale data from the economic and the 1:50,000 scale topographic mapping and from which various digital and analogue products can be derived.

Soviet military topographic mapping of Sweden exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (8 sheets, complete coverage, published 1979-1988); 1:500,000 (22 sheets, complete coverage, published 1976-1989); 1:200,000 (125 sheets, complete coverage, published 1971-1995); 1:100,000 (399 sheets, complete coverage, published 1966-1999); 1:50,000 (8 sheets, minor coverage, published 1980-1988) and city (1:10,000 to 1:25,000) topographic mapping of 7 major cities from Eskilstuna to Uppsala published between 1974 and 1989. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.

Nautical charting is undertaken by the Hydrographic Department (Sjöfartsverket (SjöV)), of the Swedish Maritime Administration, founded in 1956 by a merger of several pre-existing organizations. In 1987 it became a public enterprise. Small scale charts cover the whole of the Baltic and Gulf of Bothnia, while coastal charts and Skärgårdskort cover the Swedish coast in greater detail. A 50-sheet military series (Amphibianmap) is currently in progress which combines the 1:50,000 topographic map with nautical data at the same scale. There are also seven sets of Båtsportkort, designed for recreational use and collectively covering the coasts and major lakes of southern Sweden.

Aeronautical charts are compiled to ICAO specifications by LMV in cooperation with the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration (Luftfartsverket). The principal series is of seven ICAO sheets at 1:500,000 scale, covering the Swedish air space.

The Swedish Geological Survey, (Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning (SGU)), Uppsala, was founded in 1858. Among its responsibilities are the investigation and publication of information about bedrock and surficial geology and groundwater. There is a wide range of geological mapping at scales ranging from 1:50,000 to 1:2,000,000. The principal series are at 1:50,000 scale, and some sheets are accompanied by monographs. The modern quaternary geology series began in 1964, but between 1862 and 1974 about 200 sheets were published in a combined quaternary and solid geology edition using the older topographic base maps, and originally intended to cover the country. Many of these sheets are still available. A modern series of solid geological and geophysical maps started in 1967. The sheets are based on the LMV topographic maps, but are issued as numbered series, and in northern Sweden they have been issued in groups of four together with a joint monograph. Sheets of solid geology are accompanied by aerial magnetic total intensity and Bouguer anomaly maps, and in southern Sweden also by tectonic maps. There is also a 1:50,000 scale groundwater map series, and a 1:250,000 scale county groundwater series covering southern Sweden. Biogeochemical and soil geochemical maps are published at small scales, with point data issued in digital format, and a marine geological series at 1:100,000 scale is being produced to cover the Bothnian coast of Sweden. In addition to these standard map series, SGU also produces a variety of customized products reflecting contemporary concerns and requirements, such as acidification sensitivity maps, radon risk maps and engineering geological maps.

New targets for SGU were set by the government in 1999. Within 10 years it is planned to gather comprehensive geoinformation for the entire country and continental shelf area, together with more detailed information for urban and for metalliferous areas.

More recently, Sweden has participated in the European Environmental Agency’s CORINE land cover program. This project completed in 2002, resulted in a digital land cover map of the whole country based on satellite data. The mapping will identify 44 land classes with a minimum resolution of 25 ha. A more detailed national land cover database is being prepared at the same time, with more land classes and a resolution of one to five hectares. Several organizations are involved in these projects, including LMV, NVV, SSC and the Swedish Armed Forces, and the work is being managed by the Environmental Satellite Data Centre at Kiruna (Miljödatacentrum i Kiruna AB (MDC)). MDC is a subsidiary of the Swedish Space Corporation.

In 1975, a project to map the vegetation cover of the whole Swedish mountain region began at the Remote Sensing Laboratory in the Department of Physical Geography, University of Stockholm (Naturgeografiska Institutionen (SUNI)). The mapping was carried out by interpretation of infrared colour aerial photographs in conjunction with ground truth observations. A series of 23 1:100,000 scale sheets was published between 1978 and 1983. Printed in five basic colors, the maps record 25 types of vegetation within the three main categories of heath, meadow and mires. In some parts of central and southern Sweden, and for most of Norrbotten län, 1:50 000 scale vegetation mapping has also been produced with a classification extended to categorize the various forest types. More recent work has been concerned with the monitoring of vegetation change and the use of infrared photography to record pollution damage in forests.

Some of this mapping was done under contract to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårds-verket (NVV)), who publish these maps. A series of 1:250,000 scale geomorphological maps of the mountain region was also produced by SUNI in the 1970s. The maps were issued with monographs assessing the conservation value of the landscape and were also produced under contract to NVV. SUNI have also produced a fine 1:20,000 scale topographic map of the Kebnekaise massif and its glaciers Högfjällskartan Kebnekaise, published in 1988 by LMV.

In 1990-92, the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC Satellitbild AB) produced a land cover data set from LANDSAT Thematic Mapper and SPOT satellite imagery. The data set identified 13 land cover classes with a pixel resolution of 50 m, and was corrected to the Swedish National Grid. A forest atlas of Sweden has been derived from these data.

Mention must also be made of orienteering maps, since the sport originated in Sweden, and the production of these high quality, large-scale maps meets rigorous international standards. These maps are produced by a number of individual cartographers and small mapping businesses, and about 10 percent of Sweden has been covered by this detailed mapping.

Sweden is active in carrying out mapping and environmental programs overseas with the support the Swedish International Development Authority, and such work has been contracted to Swedesurvey, a unit within LMV, and to the Swedish Space Corporation.

The first national atlas of Sweden was published between 1953 and 1971, and in 1987, the Swedish parliament agreed the proposal for a new atlas to be published in 20 volumes over a 10-year period. In the event, this new National atlas of Sweden was completed in 1996 in 17 thematic volumes, available in separate Swedish and English language editions. Some revised volumes (in Swedish only) have been published, and additional volumes are planned. Three major organizations were involved in its preparation: LMV, Statistics Sweden, and the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography, who published the first national atlas. The atlas was published by SNA Publishing. In 1999, a first regional atlas, Atlas över Skåne, was published.

The largest private cartographic enterprise in Sweden is Liber Kartor AB, which previously traded under the names GLA and Esselte Kartor. Today Liber Kartor specializes in the production of educational maps and atlases.

Popular road atlases are published by Swedish motoring organizations and include the KAK bilatlas Sverige and Motormännens vägatlas over Sverige.

Urban maps of Stockholm are published by the Stockholm City Planning Administration (Stadsbyggnadskontoret), which is responsible for mapping the city at both large and small scales. The maps are underpinned by a digital base map at scales of 1:400, 1:1,000 or 1:2,000 and held in three files, one holding planimetric detail, a second with land register boundaries and a third with contours and spot height data. This mapping can be delivered in paper or film plots or in digital form. There is also a 1:4,000 scale land registry map printed in 182 sheets with a photomap on the reverse. More general maps and tourist maps are published in color at scales of 1:5,000 (Kommunekarta), 1:10,000 (the ‘Official Stockholm map’, a five-color map of the whole city in 16 sheets), 1:15,000 (six sheets) and 1:30,000. Maps for the tourist and general public include an indexed 1:10,000 scale map of Greater Stockholm, a map of weight restrictions for heavy traffic, a map of the inner city classifying buildings according to their cultutal-historical value, and a map of Stockholm’s new National City Park, Ekoparken.

Tourist maps of Sweden are published by several commercial overseas publishers, including Hallwag, RV and Kummerly and Frey (K+F).

Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån (SCB)) has its own digital mapping programs with boundary information relating to postal codes, census districts, electoral districts and urban and rural built-up areas.

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