News Releases

Detailed 3D Russian Map of Tora Bora Afghanistan Region Featured in Front-Page New York Times War Coverage

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, USA – December 12, 2001 – Arguably the world’s best map of Tora Bora, the epicenter of the current U.S. and allied effort to find and destroy forces loyal to Osama bin Laden, was published on the front page of today’s New York Times. The map data was sourced and produced by East View Cartographic, which gave the NYT the hands-down “visual scoop” on the Tora Bora story.

According to Kent D. Lee, President/CEO of East View Cartographic, “This map data was produced from a Russian-language 1:50,000-scale topographic map and other sources, including Russian 2-meter imagery.” The topo map was originally produced by Soviet military authorities during their war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Even so, the meticulous detail and precision work of Soviet cartographers makes this map, almost 20 years later, still the best such map of this area. In fact the best mapping of Afghanistan is generally acknowledged to be that produced under Soviet rule.

“Russian/Soviet maps can be intimidating or frustrating at first glance due to their Russian-language content and the Cyrillic alphabet. Yet when digitized and rendered in the universal language of bits, and viewed or manipulated with increasingly popular GIS software, these maps are quite literally being born again.”

“Even experts often do not realize what a gold mine Russian/Soviet topographic maps and imagery represent,” said Lee. “But the stunning Tora Bora graphic speaks for itself. That is why the Times ran this map prominently on Page One, not buried inside.”

Russian mapping and satellite imagery are still relatively unknown, except to a narrow group of experts in government, academia, and some parts of the corporate world. But for many areas of Earth they represent the best available source data for the kinds of advanced digital and computer models required by more and more users—including the mass media. Known as GIS (Geographic Information System) data, there is a “Russian solution” for virtually every point on Earth, pole to pole.

East View works every day with customers around the world—including the United Nations–to supply them with mapping solutions like the Tora Bora graphics—and sometimes just regular old paper maps, too.

Says EVC’s CEO Kent Lee “The new challenge is now to effectively market Russian satellite imagery, which is even more underappreciated and misunderstood. The reasons have to do less with the Cyrillic alphabet—since these are just pictures from space—and more with the Byzantine and time-consuming procedures of getting the data from the various Russian producers, military and civilian. But no company is doing a better job than we are—the Tora Bora high-resolution satellite image was delivered in a mere 72 hours, a record in this kind of business.”

About East View

East View was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. East View is comprised of East View Information Services (, East View Geospatial ( and East View Map Link ( East View maintains thousands of supplier/publisher relationships throughout the world for maps and geospatial data and Russian, Arabic and Chinese-produced social and hard science content. East View manages a data center, library and warehouse in Minneapolis where it hosts and stores dozens of foreign language databases, hundreds of thousands of maps and atlases and millions of geospatial, Russian, Chinese and Arabic metadata records. Uncommon Information. Extraordinary Places. East View.