Topographic mapping in Venezuela is the responsibility of the Servicio Autónoma de Geografia y Cartografía Nacional (SAGECAN) (formerly the Dirección de Cartografía Nacional) within the Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales Renovables (MARNR). The organization was founded in 1935 and photogrammetric survey of the country began in 1938. A basic mapping scale of 1:25,000 was selected, with contours surveyed at 20 m intervals. More than 5,000 sheets have been produced in this series. Cover does not yet extend to the far south or east of the country, and in a few areas a basic scale of 1:50,000 has been preferred.
In 1946, technical assistance from the Inter-American Geodetic Survey was negotiated, and map series at scales of 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 were also started at about this time. The 1:100,000 scale series is currently perhaps the most useful of all the topographic series, covering about three-fifths of the country. A new version was started in 1962 to replace the preliminary edition, and sheets have a 30′ longitude by 20′ latitude format. This is a good quality, five-color map with 40 m contours.
The 1:250,000 scale series was re-cast in its present form on IMW sheet lines in 1970, and published sheets cover all of the north and much of the south of the country, in the latter area partly as ‘picto-radar’ maps. The series is in seven colors with contours at 50 m or 80 m intervals. A complete cover of the country at the scale of 1:250,000 is also available as semi-controlled radar mosaics. There is also a complete cover of maps at 1:500,000 scale, though in the south, these are described as copias heliograficas. SAGECAN has also published a number of large-scale maps of cities, and a complete set of general purpose maps of each state or federal territory (Entidades federales) with varying scales.
The more recent topographic sheets are based on the UTM projection, except for the 1:500,000 scale series which is on a Lambert conformal conical projection. The ellipsoid is Hayford International. Older series mapping (before 1962) was on a secant conical projection.
Quality of topographic mapping has began to improve as a result of several collaborative projects between SAGECAN and the Institut Cartogràfic Catalunya (ICC), Spain. These include the production of a new 1:250,000 scale digitally-produced coverage of the country in 84 sheets and a set of 93 1:25,000 scale orthophotomaps of Caracas and the surrounding area produced from color air photography. A major project to help in the restructuring of the Venezuelan agricultural sector was began in 1997. This will result in production of 1,500 topographic map sheets at 1:25,000 scale covering states north of the Orinoco. This work has been commissioned by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Cría. The maps are being prepared from orthoimages created from new panchromatic air photo cover, and georeferencing is being carried out using the GPS. The states of Amazonas and Bolivar, south of the Orinoco are to be covered by digital radar orthoimages at 1:50,000 scale in a contract with SAGECAN.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Venezuela is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (11 sheets, complete coverage, published 1966-1990); 1:500,000 (27 sheets, complete coverage, published 1964-1988) and city (1:10,000) topographic maps of Caracas and Maracaibo published between 1979 and 1981. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
Nautical charts of Venezuelan waters are prepared by the Dirección de Hidrografía y Navegación, and this agency is also responsible for hydrographic, oceanographic and meteorological data.
Geological mapping is undertaken by the Dirección de Geologia (CAIGEOMIN) of the Ministry of Energy and Mines. Several small scale maps on earth science themes are available, and a structural geological map set in 30 sheets at 1:500,000 scale from 1976 may still be obtained, but very little more detailed geological mapping appears to be available apart from a handful of 1:100,000 quadrangle maps published since 1986. There have been a number of mapping initiatives undertaken in association with the petroleum industry, and an energy map of the whole country was published in 1993 by the Petroleum Economist (PE) of the UK in association with Petróleos de Venezuela. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has also undertaken geological surveys and mineral resource assessments of the Guayana Shield in cooperation with the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana Técnica Minera (CVGTM), and several 1:500,000 sheets have been published by USGS in its Miscellaneous Investigations Series. CVGTM has also carried out extensive resource inventories in Guayana using satellite image base maps and producing 1:250,000 scale maps of geology, soils, vegetation, climate and geology.
The Servicio Autónomo de Conservación de Suelos y Cuencas Hidrográfico, MARNR, is responsible for soil survey and management. The Dirección de Vegetación, also within MARNR, has produced 1:250,000 scale vegetation maps of the whole country and larger scale vegetation maps of the principal river basins.
The first edition of the national atlas was prepared in 1969, a second edition was published in 1979 and a third edition is expected soon. A volume of thematic resource maps and studies, Imagen de Venezuela was published in 1992 by Petróleos de Venezuela. SAGECAN is responsible for the national register of geographical names, and since 1967 there has been a program to compile a series of toponymic gazetteers of which about 11 have so far been published.
Resource atlases of the Amazon Federal Territory (co-published with the Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM)) of the Central and West-Central States and of the Orinoco River, Apure, have been published by MARNR.
Urban mapping of Caracas is undertaken by the Oficina Metropolitana de Planeamiento Urbano (OMPU) and ranges from a 1:20,000 scale map in two sheets, to multi-sheet mapping at scales of 1:5,000 and 1:1,000.
Private publishers include Ediciones Armis, which specializes in producing general and urban maps and guides, including a map guide of the country for tourists and maps of several states and cities.
General tourist maps of the country are also published by International Travel Maps (ITM), Nelles and Berndtson and Berndtson (B&B).
Census tract maps and a general administrative map of the country are produced by the Oficina Central de Estadística y Informática (OCEI).