Aaron's Links to ONLINE RESOURCES for

FREE topographic maps and research tools

by Aaron Maizlish
last update 1/20/2005

This page includes links of resources to free online topographic maps.  This page is mostly for my personal use, but I thought I would share what I have found along the way. 

PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT ELSE YOU FIND.  I have not attempted to make this list complete, and would appreciate information about other free resources.  E-mail me.   It should be noted that I am only attempting to describe sites that provide FREE, large-scale topographic mapping.  There are tens of thousands of additional sites that offer tourist maps, road maps, thematic and cultural mapping.  This page is solely focussed on topographic survey data.

The two best U.S. sources to purchase paper international topographic maps are Map Link, Inc., the world's largest wholesaler of maps, and Omni Resources.  Map Link stocks every USGS quadrangle, as well as topographic maps for about 80 countries.  Another company East View Cartographic has more digital titles.

DISCLAIMER:  I am only reporting on what I have found on the internet; and this page is mostly for my own use.  Some link might lead to images that  may have been uploaded to the web in violation of internationally recognized copyrights.

Following is the format of this page.

1.   On-Line Topographic Resources:    ONLY 1:250,000 AND BETTER

1A.   National Surveys on-line (seamless platform or scanned sheets)
1B:   Other topographic sheets found online (presumed to be public domain)
1C:   Websites of other national surveys

To keep it simple, I will put the countries in alphabetic rather than my usual geographic (LC) order.

2.    Online (free) DEM resources  (COMING LATER, MAYBE)

3.    Other noteworthy map resources and online catalogues


1.    On-line Topographic map resources, 1:250,000 and larger

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:50,000
Soviet mapping for Albania at 1:50,000 in 102 sheets dated 1974-1988.

Nothing comes from the Brits for free.   Lots of data from Australia and USGS
USGS  Atlas of Antarctic Research
A tremendous amount of information in multiple layers.
Antarctic Geoscience Datasets (from Geoscience Australia)

A project to deliver free Raster and GIS maps for Africa.  Lots of data to be found, although they seem to want you to contribute more maps to download theirs.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:100,000s
Soviet mapping for Armenia at 1:100,000 in 34 sheets dated 1974-1990.

Geoscience Australia (formerly AUSLIG)
Australia official survey site has an immense growing body of online resources including:

Seamless Australia viewer at 1:1,000,000 and 1:250,000
Geology maps for the entire nation in JPG
National Geoscience Datasets online
The entire country can be downloaded at 1:250,000, viewable in ArcINfo, ArcView, or MapInfo formats (and should also be viewable with free GIS viewers.)  Lots of other datasets including satellite data, DEMs and Antarctica data.

Australian Spatial Data Directory Geoscience Portal
Provides information on geosciences materials, including links to the above datasets as well as access to state Natural Resources Maps.

Austrian Map Online
The entire country in a seamless portal at 1:50,000 and 1:200,000.  The application does note work well with MacIntosh.  I look forward to system improvements here.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:100,000s
Soviet mapping for Azerbaijan at 1:100,000 in 93 sheets dated 1974-1991.

TOPORAMA- Canada Seamless Map.  **Auto-generated data at 1:50,000**
The Canadian government has set up the Toporama website that maps the entire country at 1:50,000.  As of 11/01/2003 this site had a lot of limitations (updated review would be appreciated).  Although the contour information is detailed, no spot elevations or contour intervals are provided (data needs to be interpolated.)  The base map is in geographic projection, which becomes annoying at the highest latitudes.

The British Columbia provincial government has completed an entirely new resurvey of the province (at substantial cost) whose elevation is derived from the SRTM data, and not from the old national survey.  The seamless map will be found on thier website under "provincial basemap".  Once into their system, the user can add contour data, which includes spot elevations and contour intervals (at scales greater than 1:50,000).  This is a remarkably detailed survey and smooth functioning website, although map legibility still needs some work.

1:25,000 Map of the Cook Islands
Land Information - New Zealand now provides their topographic surveys of the Cook Islands and Tokelau in high resolution free of charge.

Mapy Atlas  **Entire country survey up to 1:10,000**
You have to be able to read Czech to navigate this site.

Kort and Matrikelstyrelsen ** Complete official survey to 1:25,000
The Danish government maintains a seamless interface for their 1:25,000 through 1:500,000 series online.  In Danish and English.  Small image size unfortunately.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - partial coverage
A few sheets at 1:200,000 for the Omo River Basin, 1977-1983

National Land Survey of Finland
Free registration at the Map Site (also in English) allows limited use of survey maps.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:100,000s
Georgia in 39 sheets.

Maps for most of Europe.  The UK site has 1:50,000 O/S maps in a large screen format.  The maps may not be the most current editions (?).

Ordnance Survey - "Get a Map"
The Ordnance Survey has small images and source data to the 1:25,000 scale.

Multimap is a commercial street map site, like MapQuest for the UK and Europe.  The UK map features the O/S topographic maps when viewed at the 1:25,000 scale.  This has the advantage of offering a large screen image than the Ordnance Survey site.

Survey and Mapping Office
The government survey office offers a few free maps on their website including a single sheet topographic map of the district at 1:170,000.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:200,000s
88 sheets at 1:200,000 1978-1991.

Various Military, JOGs and Political maps
The Humanitarian Information Centre has a wide selection of Iraq maps

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:50,000s
68 sheets from 1983-1993, includes occupied territories.  While this series may be useful as a quick reference it is certainly not the best mapping of Israel.  Survey of Israel maps are higher quality and readily availalbe commercially.

ITALY (Emilia-Romagna)
Web Server Cartografico
A scalable interactive map of the region, including various thematic overlays.  Very small image.  Also available for download.

Geographical Survey Institute
A brand-new beta website provides complete mapping for Japan at 1:25,000 in easy to use format.  If you don't read Japanese characters, use the google.com translator service to help you navigate.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:100,000s
82 sheets at 1:100,000 1972-1991.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:200,000s
38 sheets at 1:200,000 1969-1986

(Korean) National Geographic Institute   **SEAMLESS COVERAGE**
The Global Map View at the bottom of the webpage is a portal to a seamless Global Map in ArcIMS.  Map failed to load for me in Mac Netscape 7.0.

Administration du Cadastre et Topographie 
The entire country is available on CD at 1:20,000 for 12 euros.

New Zealand Topo Online
The Land Information New Zealand (official government survey) has put up a Beta version of a seamless 1:50,000 scale map for New Zealand and external territories.  In ArcIMS viewer, good functionality but no place name lookup yet.  Land Info Home.

New Zealand Offshore Islands
Land Information New Zealand also offers free gigantic maps in high-quality downloads for
1:50,000 Auckland Island, Chatham
1:25,000 Antipodes, Campbell, Snares, Bounty, Raoul

This Ukrainian heritage site put up a detailed 1994 Polish military survey of Southeastern Poland (Carpathian mountains) as well as some other resrouces.

This site has the Russian topographic maps at 1:200,000 for the Altai Mountains, Tuva and Hakasia.  In Russian and English.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - 1:100,000 Russian Caucasus
447 sheets at 1:100,000, see also Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

Slovenian National Atlas
Registration for the Slovenian National Atlas site is free, and once in, you will have access to their impressive topographic and cadastral map series (down to 1:5,000).  Unfortunately the site is only in Slovenian, and is not compatible with MacIntosh Netscape 7.0 as of 11/01/2003.

South Africa 1:50,000 series in raster format
Available for free download from madmappers.com.

This commercial site shows images of the Swiss topographic survey maps at 1:50,000 and at 1:25,000.  While the site has gotten much better, the images are still too small.  Does not work well with a Macintosh.

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:100,000s
130 sheets at 1:100,000 1985-1991

see Cook Islands

U.C. Berkeley Map Library - Soviet 1:100,000s
537 sheets at 1:100,000 1972-2000

If all sites could be just like topozone.  Topozone has a seamless map of the US at all published USGS scales; 1:24,000, 1:100,000, and 1:250,000, and 1:63,360 for Alaska.  Recent changes to topozone mean that you have to pay ($49.95 per year) for the highest degree of functionality, nonetheless, the free portion of the site is still superior to most of the other topo sites reviewed on this page.

MapTech shows all USGS quads, all Nautical Charts and Aeronautical Charts for US.  and aerial photos

Terraserver also has the USGS data, and lots of aerial photography.

University of New Hampshire Map Library
HIstoric USGS topos of all of New York and New England 1890-1950.

All of the wonderful National Park maps that you get when you enter a park are now available on-line at no charge.

Thousands of geologic and other thematic maps of the US and territorities available for download.


Questionable provenance on some of the sheets.


2.    Free Digital Elevation Data (DEMs) and Other On-Line Resources

This is a short list, relevant to our little study of geomorphometry.  There are numerous longer lists out there on the internet.


Seamless Data Distribution System - National Map
USGS has moved to a seamless platform for distribution of the National Elevation Dataset, which is all free of charge (although there are constraints on the individual image sizes.  The U.S. is mostly avilable at 1 Arc Second spacing (approximately 30 meter), with increasing amounts of data becoming available at 1/3rd arc second (10 meter) and 1/9 arc second (3 meter).  Seamless is downloadable in bil, ArcGrid and GridFloat formats.  Seamless does not work with IE for MacIntosh (use Netscape 7.0 or later instead.)

The 1 degree DEMs (90 meter spacing distributed in 1 degree x 1 degree tiles) are distributed by USGS.  These are the tiles that WinProm is designed to process.

The individual 7.5' DEMS (predecessors to the seamless distribution system) are still available free of charge through GIS Data Depot, a giant reseller of digital cartographic data. The individual DEMS are on a UTM projection, as opposed to the seamless data, which is unprojected.  GIS Data Depot has tons of free stuff, mostly for the US.

The California Spatial Information Library, through the state.


SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) Data is distributed free of charge through the USGS seamless data platform.  More information about the survey can be found on the SRTM homepage.

The GLOBE database at the National Geophysical Data Center (NOAA) is a 30-arc center global DEM.  Parts were derived from GTOPO30, but the database is generally of better quality.

GTOPO30 is a  free DEM of the world at 1000 meter (30 arc second) spacing, available in unprojected (geographic) format.

NIMA offers Level 0 DEMs worldwide through the Geospatial Engine.

NOAA's Color landforms, Topography and Bathymetry page

The Canadian Digital Elevation Data (CDED) derives from the 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 maps in the National Topographic Data Base (NTDB).

The Yukon government provides a free 90m DEM of the territory, taken from the 1:50,000 maps.

Seamless Map


The Geographic Names Information System is the most comprehensive government source of toponymic data for the U.S., its territories and Antarctica. Elevation data is woefully inaccurate.  Most of the GNIS can also be accessed through the look-up function in topozone.

Run by NIMA, the Geonames database is a standard reference for place names for the rest of the world.

Official gazetteer of Australia.


The Virtual Terrain Project seems to have useful information.  Massive number of current links to free sources worldwide.

Check out FreeGIS.org, which has a lot of current information.

3.    Map Libraries and Online Map Directories

The "Short List" of Incredibly Comprehensive online map resources
Well I did not endeavor to cover every resource on this page.  I was just exploring one narrow interest, free topographic resources worldwide.  There is a much larger world of internet mapping resources of course, everything from seamless viewers, to free city plans and general reference maps to a huge explosion of thematic and scientific mapping hosted in literally 50,000 different pages.  To help you start the search I've listed only a few directories and map library websites that I find to be extraordinarily useful.  

Odden's Bookmarks
Links to over 20,000 map sites.  An endless resource and a great place to start, maintained by a Dutch map librarian.

Perry-Casteñeda Map Collection
The University of Texas map collection with perhaps the best collection of links to free maps on the internet.

Map Collection - Naval Postgraduate Institute

The Alexandria Digital Library.  An online map system through the fantastic U.C. Santa Barbara map library.
The links are impressive

U.S. Library of Congress
Their online map collection!  

University of Minnesota
The map library webpage has linkes to numerous Map Libraries around the world.

ESRI Library
A gigantic resource of online GIS maps contributed by ESRI users.

USGS Mapping Site
Get lost on this site for a while, and check out the new seamless National Map (doesn't work with all browsers).  Lots of free maps, both US and International.

U.C. Berkeley Earth Sciences and Map Library

Embassy World
It's really a site about embassies, but their well-organized map page has decent lists of online maps by country.

The Color Landform Atlas of the United States
A popular resource for a variety of images of the 50 states.  Check out their links page!

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