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Topographic Maps

U.S. Army Map Service
U.S. Geological Survey
California quadrangle index
Soviet Military Topographic Maps
Digital Topographic Map Sets
Sample Topographic Maps


Definition: "Maps that present the horizontal and vertical positions of the features represented; distinguished from a planimetric map by the addition of relief in measurable form."

Topographic Map Sets form the backbone of the Map Collection. Sets are collected for every country in the world at various scales, covering various time periods, and in various languages. Topographic maps not only show the relief of the terrain by elevation contours, but contain a wealth of information on cultural features. One of the best ways to see the type of information shown on each map is to study the Topographic Map Symbols used to depict features on the U.S. Geological Survey topographic sets.

U.S. Army Map Service

A period of great growth in the Library's collection came after World War II, when the U.S. Army Mapping Service (AMS) made the Library a depository for its own map publications as well as its distribution of captured maps. AMS sets cover most foreign countries of the world, with major emphasis on European countries. Many AMS Series index maps have been scanned by UC Santa Barbara and can be viewed online. The distribution of captured maps included German topographic sets covering all European countries, northern African countries, and asian countries extending from the Middle East to India. The distribution also provided a large collection of topographic maps produced by the Japanese. These are some of the most detailed maps available for parts of China, especially Manchuria, and for islands of the southwestern Pacific. The scales of AMS and captured maps vary from 1:250,000, 1:50,000, and 1:25,000 and, in general, were mapped during the 1930s-1940s.

U.S. Geological Survey

Some of the major sets received on Depository from the U.S. Geological Survey include those listed below. Additional information on the U.S. Geological Survey's topographic map products is available from the USGS Topographic Maps Homepage.

  • 1:1,000,000 International Map of the World (G3200 s1000 I5)
  • 1:250,000 1 x 2 degree series (G3700 s250 U5)
  • 1:100,000 series (G3700 s100 U5)
  • 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 U.S.G.S. county series
  • 1:25,000 7.5 x 15' series (G3700 s25 U5)
  • 1:25,000 U.S.-Mexican border sheets (G3701 F2 s25 U51)
  • 1:25,000 U.S.-Canadian border sheets (G3701 F2 s25 U5)
  • Quadrangles covering Guam and American Samoa
  • Standard topographic quadrangles--1:24,000, 1:62,500 (G3700 svar U6)
  • Maps covering entire states, islands, etc.
  • National park maps
  • River survey maps
  • 6-minute quadrangles (Los Angeles County)
  • Other non-standard quadrangles, such as those covering mining districts and oil fields.

California Topographic Quadrangle Index

Northern CA topo index
Northern/Central California

Southern CA topo quad index
Southern/Central California

This index map of California is annotated with the Earth Sciences and Map Library's holdings of USGS topographic quadrangle maps. Click on either image to see a larger image.

Soviet Military Topographic Maps

The Library's collection includes many topographic map sets issued by the Soviet military. These maps cover much of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe and were mapped at various scales. A list of Soviet Military Topographic Map Sets held by the Earth Sciences & Map Library, as well as the other UC campuses and Stanford University, is available online. For a guide to reading Soviet military topographic maps, including their symbols and abbreviations, refer to the U.S. Army manual Soviet Topographic Map Symbols.

Digital Topographic Map Sets

The Library's collection also includes digital topographic map sets, either purchased in digital format or digitized from our paper maps. An online list of the Library's Digital Topographic Map Sets, which includes sets covering various countries and regions worldwide, is available. Some digital maps can be viewed online.

Sample Topographic Maps

Survey of Egypt 1:25,000
Egypt. Maslahat al-Misahah, 1934-1940
(Call no.G8300 s25 .E7 no.80/630 1932 Case D)

Vietnam 1:50,000
Army Map Service, 1963-1965
(Call no. G8020 s50 .U51 Case D)

Estonia 1:25,000, 1928-1929

Switzerland 1:50,000
Switzerland. Eidg. Landestopographie, 1957-1979
(Call no. G6040 s50 .S96 Case D)

Lithuania 1:25,000
Lithuania. Karo Topografijos Skyriau, 1930?
(Call no. G7050 s25 .L4 Case D)

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 1:100,000
(Call no. G8442.K5 1978 .G7 Case B)

Poland 1:100,000
Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny (Poland), 1921-1938
(Call no. G6520 s100 .P61 Case D)

Mount Everest Region 1:200,000
Soviet Military Topographic map, 1977

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Last updated 10/7/09