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Turkish Mapping dates back to 15th century. The charts drawn by Ibrahim MURSEL and the world chart painted in nine colors on a deer skin by Admiral Piri Reis, the famous navy commander of Ottoman Empire (see Historical Maps) are the spectacular examples of Turkish Mapping. From this century till the end of 19th Century, a great number of maps, charts or similar works can be found reflecting the historical aspect of Turkish Mapping.



The establishment of the Mapping Commission in 1895 as a unit subordinated to the Fifth Department of the Turkish General Staff is accepted as the beginning of modern cartography in Turkey and foundation of General Directorate of Mapping, the current organization. The Mapping Commission performed its preliminary works in five or six rooms reserved for them on the upper floor of the old Gendarmerie Office.


Since the rapid production of the maps required urgently for national defence needed a wider and more capable organization, the Mapping Commission was arranged on October 28, 1918 as an independent mapping department of the Ministry of National Defence, which then had some branches, namely, triangulation, topography, reconnaissance, cartography, central offices, a surveying battalion and a surveying school.


The Mapping Department, which moved to Ankara from Istanbul after the Independence War, was settled in the Attar Basi Khan in Koyunpazari, which at that time was almost downtown; and the printing section also started its work in the building, which is today the School of Arts in Ulus. In 1924, the Department, which is still inside the General Directorate Garrison, moved to the hut-like buildings located between the Military Sewing House and the General Directorate.


After this settlement, maps and plans needed by the governmental bodies, universities, and private companies for development purposes were produced rapidly in line with the revolutions laid down right after the foundation of the new state, The Turkish Republic. In the light of the developments then, there arouse a need to make a new arrangement for the organization of the Department. Lieut. Gen. M. Sevki (Ölçer), who is now regarded as the founder of the General Directorate of Mapping, the current organization, recognized this need to be of vital importance and prepared together with his team a bill for the new organization, General Directorate of Mapping, and sent it to the Ministry of National Defence in early 1925. According to the legal procedure, following the approval of Ministry of National Defence, the bill was passed to the Prime Ministry to be discussed in the Ministerial Council and presented then to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the final authority to pass the bill.


As a result; the law No.657 passed in the Parliament on May 2, 1925 authorized the re-organization of the Mapping Department under a new name, General Directorate of Mapping reporting to Ministry of National Defence and kept responsible as the National Mapping Agency (NMA) for the production and provision of all kinds of maps and plans to meet the requirements of Turkish Armed Forces and all governmental bodies, namely, ministries, universities as well as private companies and individuals, for both national defence and development purposes.


The General Directorate of Mapping had the following departments then:


The Law No.657 was amended with Law No.203 of January 2, 1961. Due to the policies accepted by the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Coordinating and Planning of Mapping Affairs and to the instructions set forth in the By-law for Supply and Usage of Maps and Mapping Information, General Directorate of Mapping renamed in 1983 as General Directorate of Mapping was entitled to produce maps at scales smaller than 1/5,000. The production of maps at a scale of 1/25.000, which is the base scale, is carried out according to the specifications of the relevant NATO STANAG to ensure standards and interoperability among NATO nations.


For detailed information about the history of Turkish Cartography download "THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF TURKISH CARTOGRAPHY" (pdf, 8.09MB)


This is a comprehensive study including also the maps or relevant works dating back to the prehistoric times (BS.8000-5000).


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