Yemen comprises the former Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and its southern neighbour the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, as well as the island of Socotra, which merged to form Yemen in May 1990. The national mapping agency of the new state is the former national agency of the YAR, the Survey Authority (YSA) in Sana’a, but mapping systems of the two parts of the new nation continue to reflect different histories.

YSA was set up with Swiss aid and became an autonomous organization in 1982 when it moved to new headquarters. British aid programs established the first modern photogrammetric mapping in the former YAR. A 1:50,000 scale map was started by the Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) (now Ordnance Survey International (OSI)) and YSA in the southwest of the country and later extended to provide basic scale mapping of most of the YAR in 171 sheets. The first sheets were published in 1979, and parallel English and Arabic language versions of this map were issued, as the series came to be extended to most of the country. This map is on the UTM projection, WGS 1972 ellipsoid, and shows relief with 20 m contours. Derived 1:100,000 scale coverage was also issued for some areas. Unmapped desert areas of the YAR were covered by OSI at 1:100,000 scale in a bilingual map early in the 1990s. This mapping was derived from SPOT satellite imagery, shows relief with 40 m contours (20 m in flatter areas) and depicts place names collected in the field. An eight-sheet 1:250,000 map was also produced, with relief shown by hypsometric tints and 100 m contours.

South Yemen was also mapped by British authorities, but surveys were carried out prior to independence, and maps were compiled by the British Directorate of Military Survey. Parts of the British Protectorate of Aden were covered in a 1:100,000 scale photomap series on the UTM projection, Clarke 1800 ellipsoid. Socotra was mapped in the 1970s by the British Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in a 1:125,000 scale topographic map with relief at 100 m intervals.

Soviet military topographic mapping is the best available coverage of Yemen, it exists at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (8 sheets, complete coverage, published 1980-1983); 1:500,000 (18 sheets, complete coverage, published 1979-1981); 1:200,000 (91 sheets, complete coverage, published 1978-1980); 1:100,000 (244 sheets, complete coverage, published 1978-1986) and city (1:10,000 to 1:25,000) topographic mapping of Aden and Sana’a published between 1975 and 1978. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.

Recent earth science mapping has been carried out in a joint program between the German Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BfGR) and the Yemani Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources (MOMR). 1:250,000 scale full-color geological mapping of the whole new nation was completed in 1996 in eight sheets and published with an accompanying explanatory text. Vserossiiskoi nauchno-issle-dovatel’skii geologicheskii Institut (VSEGEI), St. Petersburg, published mineral resource mapping of Yemen in 1994, at 1:1,000,000 scale covering the whole country in two English and Russian language sheets, as well as 1:500,000 scale eight-sheet Arabic and Russian language groundwater resources and hydrogeological mapping issued in 1996.

A limited amount of environmental mapping has been compiled. The World Bank funded a program of 1:50,000 scale mapping of wooded areas of the country, carried out in the early 1990s by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in Sana’a. The British Natural Resources Institute (NRI) compiled a number of themes for the Wadi Rima area, and thematic mapping of the country has also been published in volumes by the Deutsch-Jemenitische Gesellschaft (DJG).  Thematic mapping was also produced in association with Swiss agencies in the 1970s.  Other coverage of Yemen appears in sheets in the Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO).

Plans to compile new 1:10,000 scale urban mapping of 18 cities in Yemen were announced in 1993 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning.

Among commercially published mapping of Yemen are maps from Berndtson and Berndtson (B&B), Peter Whitfield and Freytag Berndt.

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