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Frequently asked questions

The most frequently asked questions regarding the new national map for Switzerland and the digital cartographic model are listed here.

1:10,000 National Map

The 1:10,000 national map is based on the topographic landscape model, while the representation of the terrain (relief shading, rock formations, colouring) is based on the 1:25,000 national map.

Yes, because it is less generalised. It displays the course of streets and roads, shapes of houses, etc., in greater detail, and also depicts a larger number of individual trees. The 1:10,000 national map also contains more inscriptions.

An official national dataset containing street names is under construction. Once this dataset has been created, it will be possible to integrate it into the series of national maps. In the 2019 edition, the first areas will contain street names.

Yes, the quality of cartographic representation corresponds to that of the other national maps. In certain cases, the use of symbols and selection of objects were adapted due to the different scale. With some objects, e.g. motorway entry and exit roads, due to the available basic data and the use of fully-automated processing the graphic representation is not optimal.

The data for the 1:10,000 national map are based on the annually quality-tested dataset of the topographic landscape model and its status as of the corresponding survey date.

The 1:10,000 national map is a cartographic representation that can be used for carrying out basic spatial-visual analyses. For carrying out analyses with higher requirements in terms of precision, however, it is best to use the data of the topographic landscape model.

The national maps are updated every six years, though significant developments are updated separately in the dataset. In the longer term, the goal is to shorten the updating intervals depending on the availability of updated fundamentals. 

The 1:10,000 national map is based on the topographic landscape model, which covers the whole of Switzerland. Extending the map to incorporate territory in our neighbouring countries is not possible, partly because of the lack of fundamentals from the countries concerned, and is also not planned.

The other series of national maps need to undergo a cartographic generalisation process (simplification of representation and reduction of content) in order to ensure their legibility. The respective processes are now 80 percent automated. In the longer term, the aim is to achieve a higher degree of automation, though it will first be necessary to balance the associated costs against the potential savings and resulting losses in terms of quality.

The representation of rock is adopted from the 1:25,000 national map and optimised for the 1:10,000 scale. Any changes that may occur, for example as the result of glacier retreat, will initially be processed manually in the 1:25,000 national map.

The 1:10,000 national map can be printed out in formats up to A3 directly from the map.geo.admin.ch geoportal. A printed version of the map is not currently available as a standard product.

No, it is intended to complement and support it. The cadastral survey basic plan already uses elements that exist in the 1:10,000 national map. The plan does not yet encompass the entire country. With the 1:10,000 national map, the cadastral survey has a homogeneous and comprehensive dataset for Switzerland at its disposal that supports its various activities.

1:25,000 National Map

swisstopo is starting a comprehensive upgrade of the largest official map document for Switzerland – the 1:25,000 national map – with 247 sheets. For this purpose, data are being taken from the topographic landscape model and the elevation model, cartographic production processes are being automated and data are being set up and provided in a flexible digital cartographic model. This is for digital usage as well as for printed products. At the same time, the former 1:25,000 national map will be replaced with individual map sheets, with completion scheduled for 2019. Automation will increase efficiency, meaning that in future it will be possible to update the new 1:25,000 national map more quickly than is currently the case.

The 1:25,000 national map that dates back to the 1950s can no longer meet today’s requirements. It is based on the status of technology and topographic principles that existed at that time. Requirements such as more flexible use of data for various media, more efficient production processes, greater accuracy and faster data updates can only be met if a comprehensive upgrade is undertaken and the 1:25,000 national map is produced on the basis of new fundamentals. This concerns topographic principles as well as technical processes.

There are three fundamental differences: the utilised fundamentals, representation and usage options.

Reconstruction of the map based on the topographic landscape model and the elevation model means that much-improved and more precise data are used as the basis. Data from other authorities that are already integrated in the topographic landscape model, such as cadastral survey data for designation, are also used for the national map. This results in product consistency and avoids any duplication of work. 

Changes in representation of the new map as compared with the old one will bring further improvements, particularly for digital usage. The main visible changes are:

  • Slightly larger minimum sizes and spaces for objects, to improve legibility
  • Removal of dotted double lines and double lines with shading on one side
  • Different colours to represent the railway network and railway stations as distinct from roads
  • Grading of the road network by width and colour-coding to indicate importance of route
  • Use of new sans-serif Swiss Frutiger font
  • Representation of changing wooded areas, especially in alpine regions, without additional contour lines
  • Introduction of coloured boundary lines (municipal, cantonal and national borders)

The new map gives rise to new options for use, primarily thanks to the availability of new data in vector form instead of pixel maps, which were previously the only type of map available..

The printed maps are based on a wealth of new and more flexible data, which also permits versatile usage for applications such as Swiss Map online and in services such as map.geo.admin.ch or special applications for engineers and planners:

  • Option for variable representation of cartography (e.g. colours, representation of objects)
  • Possibility of linking cartographic data with attributes (= assignable information) and third-party data
  • Data editing and provision independently of the printed map sheet
  • Separate detailed content structuring and representation by level and object (e.g. road network only or river system only)
  • Possibility of updating more quickly in future after the initial construction

The schedule for construction follows the official 6-yearly updating cycle.

Yes, all scales are being converted. Conversion of the 1:1,000,000 national map has already been completed. The other national maps will follow in stages. The public will be advised of the exact dates in due course. Conversion is a long-term project.

Yes, as part of the updating process, old national map sheets will gradually be replaced by new ones. You can find old national maps on map.geo.admin.ch under “Journey through time”.

No. The costs for printed national maps and data remain the same and are included in the DDPS Ordinance of 20 November 2009 on the Fees Charged by the Federal Office of Topography (SR 510.620.2). 

For end users, the price of the printed 1:25,000 national map is unchanged, i.e. 14 Swiss francs.

As with printed national maps, the prices of digital maps will not change.

Yes. In fact it is even slightly better. The unique rock shading and representation of relief are being copied from the old national map. However, the contour lines are being taken from a new digital elevation model, which is more precise compared with the old national map. This also applies to the details of elevation points.

Costs will be saved in the long-term as the time and effort required for any updates will be reduced. This is because processing steps that were previously carried out manually are now being automated. However, it is very difficult to specifically quantify the financial and economic benefits at this point in time. The challenging construction of the digital cartographic model and the new 1:25,000 national map is being undertaken with existing funds. The benefits will become apparent later during updating, as the update cycle will be shortened once the entire terrain of Switzerland has been covered.

The general legal bases are specified in the Federal Geoinformation Act of 5 October 2007 (SR 510.62). Service mandate 2012-15 that was awarded by the Federal Council to swisstopo includes tasks, strategies and objectives, as well as the financial framework. Updating the national survey is specified as one of the most important strategic objectives. The current mandate serves as a guideline for the annual development of the service level agreement between the DDPS and the FLAG administrative unit, swisstopo.

The most important basis for implementation is the topographic landscape model, which will be available by the end of 2016. Only then will it be possible to construct the new digital cartographic models and the new 1:25,000 national map for the whole of Switzerland. In order to ensure the ongoing provision of map sheets that are as up-to-date as possible, construction will ensue with effect from 2013 in line with the areas scheduled by the legally specified 6-yearly cycle. Furthermore, this allows swisstopo to complete this task without increasing the number of personnel in its organisation.

The new national map will provide private users with an up-to-date, visually appealing and easy-to-read map in both printed and digital formats. Flexible data in applications and services also means that the map offers new individual possibilities for representation and usage. 

Professional users will find the flexible representation and links with other data to be of particular benefit.

Where available, the latest geodata from other countries will be directly incorporated. Where geodata are not available or do not exist, the current national maps will be integrated during construction.

Peaks, in particular those above 2,000 metres, are being adopted from a new terrain model which is considerably more accurate. Whereas data in the previous national map were based on digital height model 25 (DHM25) with an accuracy range of 3 to 8 metres in the Alps, the new national map uses the new swissAlti3D contour model, which has an average degree of accuracy of +/- 0.5 metres.

These accuracy specifications refer to the terrain models, which are used to determine the height of landmarks in the terrain which have not been marked as survey points, e.g. on a fork in a forest path. Elevation data relating to hills, passes and peaks with place names may also be affected. Generally speaking, the adjustments only concern the first decimal place being rounded up or down. The vast majority of the heights will therefore only vary by 1 to 2 metres. Additional measurement methods are of course used for mountain peaks, especially where these are marked with survey points (known as triangulation points). We therefore do not expect more significant inaccuracies here.

With the production of the new national map, geographic designations are being changed to ensure that they are consistent with the names from the topographic landscape model. As far as possible, and to the extent that it makes good sense, the topographic landscape model’s geographic designations are based on the official principles adopted by the responsible body in each case. This is why there may be variations between the new national map and the current one. The names of municipalities, etc., are primarily derived from national sources, whereas the names of fields, areas and regions are generally taken from cantonal ones. The responsible cantonal authorities determine the spelling of the geographic names in cooperation with the respective cantonal nomenclature commissions and the relevant municipalities. The most important designations and their primary sources are as follows:

  • Municipalities: Official index of Swiss municipalities (Swiss Federal Statistical Office)
  • Towns and cities: Official index of cities and towns, including post codes and 
  • perimeters (Swiss Federal Office of Topography) 
  • Federal register of buildings and housing (Swiss Federal Office of Topography)
  • Fields, areas, regions: Official cadastral survey (Cantonal survey supervision services) 
  • National map (Swiss Federal Office of Topography)
  • Railway stations: DIDOK list of station names (Swiss Federal Office of Transport)
  • Bodies of water: Hydrological Atlas of Switzerland (Swiss Federal Office for the 
  • Environment, Institute of Geography of the University of Bern)
  • Mountain peaks: National map (Swiss Federal Office of Topography) 
  • Official cadastral survey (Cantonal survey supervision services)
  • Sites and buildings: The names of sites in use (e.g. hospital sites) or historical sites are written using the official spelling in accordance with the respective lists and inventories

The spellings used in the new national map are consistent with those used in the corresponding source. This may mean that a stream and a field with the same designation, for example, are written differently (e.g. the “Roggenhuserbach” stream runs along the valley called “Roggehuser Täli”).

Disadvantages would arise because with the existing technology, less flexible data would have to continue to be updated. This would be time-consuming without providing any added value. In the longer term, swisstopo would no longer be able to satisfy users requirements for a modern geodata infrastructure for Switzerland and beyond.

All the latest editions of the Swiss national maps can be found on map.geo.admin.ch.

No. The new National Maps are semi-automatically produced, that is to say, the application software already executes the easy work. Cartographers/geomatics technicians use their know-how to complete the more complex tasks which the software cannot automatically execute, as well as the quality assurance. Moreover, the cartographic/geomatic expertise is also necessary to derive additional cartographic products from the standard maps. These are the core competencies of swisstopo and ensure the unique quality of our maps.

In 1994 and 1998, a team of delegates from swisstopo, the Institute of Cartography at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich and the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich considered a revision of graphics for the 1:25,000 national map and drew up recommendations. Smaller changes were made in the ongoing update using CAD technology. 

A larger revision was deferred to a later new construction and only resumed with the 2005/2006 trials for the new national map. Feedback received from various authorities on this consultation was incorporated into the subsequent implementation. 

Prior to the publication of the first maps, the new 1:25,000 Aarau sheet was used in 2013 to conduct another survey of more than 100 users representing administration, the military, universities and schools, industry, business and private individuals. The results of this extensive work show that the amendments to the graphic representation are broadly supported and the changes are welcomed by many users.

In future, the representation of the railways will be consistent across all scales. The colour red has already proven itself on the smaller scale maps (1:200,000 to 1:1,000,000), providing a better overview of the transport network and making it more legible, particularly in highly built-up areas. The stations have been labelled in a way which largely reflects user preferences, because the names used in the local area are often not exactly the same as the official station names. This approach to labelling also ensures consistency with other modes of transport, such as motorways.

Forest boundaries on the Central Plateau are often formed by paths or roads. In the mountains, the boundaries of forests are often difficult to identify or to differentiate from scrub. Considering that some types of tree can grow by up to 3 to 4 metres within a 6-year update cycle, it is more realistic if there is no definite depiction of forest perimeters.

The purple-coloured line makes boundaries much easier to see and read. On the old map, the boundaries drawn in black were difficult to spot.

No. Marked hiking trails are shown on these maps as normal paths wherever they are visible. In a few exceptional cases, however, there are short sections of marked hiking trails in the area covered by the four new map sheets published to date that are not visible on the ground. These sections are therefore not included in the new 1:25,000 national map. However, hiking trails are fully available as a display option in online/mobile applications and via portals such as geo.admin.ch

No. Tracks visible in the terrain are still shown, regardless of whether a hiking route runs along them or not. This could also include beaten down paths that are clearly visible on the ground.

At swisstopo, we believe that it is important for users to be able to clearly ascertain from the map whether the route displayed is a visible track or a route which is only marked with signposts in the terrain. This will provide greater clarity when using the map in comparison to the old version.

New 1:50,000 Hiking Map

No. The price will remain unchanged at CHF 22.50 per map. The new hiking maps replace the old ones to 1:50,000 scale. The design of the map has changed (more modern map graphics, paper format, extra information), but the product characters remain identical (map extract, scale and sheet layout).

The new hiking map has been completely redesigned on the basis of a broad client survey. A clear majority of the survey participants favoured a hiking map design linked to the hiking trail signage on the ground. Hiking trails therefore now are indicated in yellow, red and blue. The red colour of the mountain hiking trails would not have been easily distinguished from the red public transportation symbols, such as those found on normal national maps. Public transportation is therefore coloured purple to distinguish it clearly from the other map elements.

The 1:33,333 scale hiking maps cover well-loved hiking regions, have a handy 17.5 x 11 cm format, are printed on both sides and are particularly easy to read, thanks to their larger scale. The 1:50,000 scale hiking maps are sheets from the 1:50,000 scale national map and cover the whole country. The 22 x 11 cm format is slightly larger than the 1:33,333 scale hiking maps. The hiking trails are featured in yellow, red and blue complete with pictograms.

The data from the digital cartographic model (DCM) was used for the printed hiking maps. Thanks to this vectoral data, hiking themes can be directly integrated into the basic map to create an innovative map. Only buyers of the printed product can benefit from this added value feature at present. In the data viewer, the representation of the hiking trails is superimposed, but they can be shown with varying intensity or even completely hidden.

Yes, as soon as the necessary basis exists in the relevant regions and the demand is there, the hiking maps in the 1:33,333 scale series will be published with the new map graphics.

The main difference is the underlying data. The new hiking map is based on vector data rather than raster data. This technological advance allows the map elements to be changed at will. Hiking themes can be integrated into the basic map and not just superimposed on it. A path which forms part of a signposted mountain hiking trail is, for example, no longer black with a red overlay on the map, but is shown in bright red. In this way, hiking trail categories can be easily read and linked with the signage on the ground based on colour. Several kinds of information can therefore be shown in a map without overloading the map or affecting its readability. The new representation gives information about the width of paths and roads, the type of surface and the difficulty of the route. Together with the detailed topographical information, a large amount of other reliable information can be easily gained from the map. Hiking routes also feature labelled public transportation stops and specific information is visible as pictograms. Exclusive hiking suggestions are also now given on the map and can be seen on the same side of the sheet.

The three colours, yellow, red and blue, represent the official levels of difficulty of the Swiss hiking trail categories as signed on the ground in these colours. Yellow=hiking trail, red=mountain hiking trail, blue=alpine hiking trail

Yes, the standard sheet size remains identical. There are slight adjustments to the border sheets featuring parts of other countries.

The new map sheets for all of Switzerland will be available within the next three years. The following graphic shows when the relevant map sheet is expected to be available:

Year of publication of the new 1:50,000 hiking maps
Year of publication of the new 1:50,000 hiking maps

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

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Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstr. 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

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