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Facts and figures regarding the new National Maps

The publication of the new data and maps was preceded by comprehensive project tasks. A preliminary study was initiated in 2001 and an initial consultation procedure was carried out in 2006 before swisstopo was able to commence production of the new 1:1,000,000 national map. In the meantime, the new maps that are primarily based on the new graphics have been constantly released. However, the most significant change concerns the new data which make the use of the maps considerably more flexible.

Project milestones

  • 2001    Decision regarding the concept based on a preliminary study carried out by the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich 
  • 2003    Approval by swisstopo of the project and system objectives 
  • 2006    Decision regarding the procurement of the system components 
  • 2006    Consultation on the trial version of the 1:25,000 national map 
  • 2011    Production of the 1:1,000,000 national map incorporating new system components 
  • 2013    Approval of the new production systems 
  • 2013    Initiation of the production of the new 1:25,000 national map 
  • 2014    Publication of the first sheets of the new 1:25,000 national map
  • 2015    Publication of the new 1:500,000 national map as background to the ICAO map
  • 2016    Initiation of the production of the new 1:50,000 national map
  • 2016    Publication in of the first 1:10,000 national map produced entirely automatically
  • 2016    Publication of the first sheets of the new 1:50,000 national map
  • 2018    Publication of the 1:50,000 hiking map with new cartographic design
  • 2019    Publication of the first sheets of the new 1:100,000 national map
  • 2019    Publication of the 1:50,000 Snow Sports Map with new cartographic design
  • 2021    Completion of the redesign of the National Map


The change in terms of utilised cartographic tools that took place in 2000 involved the switch from negative scribing to CAD production (i.e. from stylus to mouse), but in the meantime cartography has undergone further major technological developments:

  • Introduction of automated generalisation 
  • Introduction of database-supported cartographic processing
  • Development of digital cartographic models
  • Introduction of the option of automated step-by-step updating


The focus has shifted to the data contained in the digital cartographic models, and this means that printed maps are now only one of a variety of potential products that can be obtained through the use of the available digital data.

For the depiction of terrain, which is a distinguishing feature that makes the set of Swiss national maps unique throughout the world, existing elements such as relief shading and rock depiction are incorporated into the new maps. In this way, the unmistakeable character of the Swiss national map has been preserved even with the use of the new technologies.


The introduction of the various new tools has also given rise to a fundamental shift in production processes. In the past, the map had formed the basis for all other products and data, but with the topographic landscape model and new height models with a greater degree of precision it is now possible to use better and more precise data for the digital cartographic model, which forms the basis for various products such as apps and printed national maps.

Furthermore, the third-party data that are already integrated into the topographic landscape model (e.g. from the cadastral survey) are also used for processing names, as well as for the digital cartographic model, and thus for the national maps. In this way, swisstopo is able to produce fully uniform maps and streamline its tasks.


Representatives of swisstopo, the Institute for Cartography at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, and the Geographic Institute of the University of Zurich are currently revising the cartography of the 1:25,000 national map and drawing up proposals. Smaller changes have been integrated into the ongoing update using CAD technology. 

A larger-scale revision was put on hold until a later rebuild and was only resumed together with the 2006 trials for the national maps based on the digital cartographic model. It was already clear at the end of the twentieth century, however, that the modifications should above all give rise to improvements for digital use. The main changes are:

  • Consistent adherence to minimal dimensions and spacing with slightly larger minimal dimensions for better legibility
  • Discontinuation of use of shaded or broken double lines
  • Depiction of the railway network and stations in colour
  • Classification of the road network by width and colour-coded differentiation of importance in terms of traffic volume 
  • Use of a new Swiss sans-serif font (Frutiger) 
  • Depiction of the changing surface area of forest, particularly in the region of the Alps, without the use of additional contour lines
  • Depiction of municipal, cantonal and national borders using broad coloured lines

Outlook for future uses

The new map and digital cartographic model will open up new opportunities for use in the future, thanks in particular to the new vector data that will be produced instead of the previously available pixel maps. The advantages are as follows:

  • Possibility of flexible visualisation of cartography (e.g. colours, depiction of objects)
  • Ability to link cartographic data with attributes (= assignable data) and data from third parties 
  • Data processing and provision independently of the sheet layout of the printed maps
  • Detailed structuring and depiction of content (e.g. only road network or only bodies of water) separated by levels and objects
  • Faster updating in the future 





Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstr. 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 01 11


Relevant authority


Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstr. 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern


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