The National Map

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The National Map is a collaborative effort of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other federal, state, and local agencies to improve and deliver topographic information for the United States.[1] It is part of the USGS National Geospatial Program.[2]

The geographic information available includes orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures and land cover. The National Map is accessible via the Web, as products and services, and as downloadable data. Its uses range from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response.[1]

The National Map is a significant contribution to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and currently is being transformed to better serve the geospatial community by providing high quality, integrated geospatial data and improved products and services including new generation digital topographic maps. In addition to being an important contribution to the NSDI, The National Map is foundational to implementation of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Geospatial Modernization Blueprint.[1] Furthermore, the National Map backs the DOI mission to, "...protect America's treasures for future generations, provide access to our nation's natural and cultural heritage, offer recreation opportunities, honor our trust responsibilities, conduct scientific research, provide wise stewardship of energy and mineral resources, foster sound use of land and water resources, and conserve and protect fish and wildlife.”[1]

The National Map also supports the USGS Science Strategy, which provides a better understanding of the earth’s processes and the issues involved with the use and management of resources.[1]

The USGS also utilizes data from The National Map Corps, which consists of volunteers who devote some of their time to provide cartographic information on structures. Potential future volunteer groups may include, but are not limited to, those in the OpenStreet community, university students in cartography and geography, and even K-12 students.[3] Currently, the National Map project begins 2013 with over half of Colorado finished.[4]

The National Map is the official replacement for the USGS topographic map program.[5]


There are several products available in the public domain on the National Map website, including[1]:

  • Making your own thematic maps of the United States
  • Finding the most up-to-date editions of U.S. topographic quadrangle maps
  • Viewing and downloading historical topographic maps dating back to 1884
  • Downloading geographic data that are available in the public domain


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The National Map,
  2. National Geospatial Program, United States Geological Survey.
  3. "The National Map Corps". United States Geological Survey. 
  4. "The National Map Corps home". United States Geological Survey. 
  5. Moore, Larry (December 2000). United States Geological Survey. Also available as an HTML document.

External links