Project Report


The Atlas of Europe (EUROATLAS) is the graphic core of the Cartographic Information System on European Affairs (EUROCIS).

The atlas concept was developed and its initial phase implemented by the Department of Cartography within the Department of Geographical Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin. Members of the project group are Prof. U. Freitag, Katja Schröder, Florian Illing (digital map compilation), Ellen Leipner, Reinhold Schlimm and Thorsten Werner (WWW atlas version). Contributions were also made by other members of the department, and some data were supplied by other scientific and economic institutions in Germany. Several experimental maps in connection with the main atlas were made by students of cartography in a special project seminar.

The atlas aims at

The implementation of the atlas concept had to face several problems. Some problems could be solved sufficiently, some problems still exist.

The spatial data base (base map) was newly generated as the existing digital data bases for Europe were either too detailed, too incomplete or too distorted to present the resulting atlas maps in a handy format an paper or on screens. Europe was defined according to traditional geographic concepts. It stretches from Iceland to the Ural mountains and includes the whole Mediterranean Sea. The islands of the Canaries, Madeira and the Azores were added in inset maps. In addition the outer territories of the EU-Members and Spitsbergen can be used as inset maps for special purposes.

The digitization of the various topographic elements in layers was executed at
1:10 000 000 for map presentations at 1:15 000 000, 1:18 000 000 (A 3 format) or
1:25 000 000 (A 4 format). The spatial data base is table-coded and transformed into geo-coded data for the use in ARC/INFO.

The spatial data base of the main map consists of the following layers:

The spatial data base has been supplemented by data of locations of other topical maps (like airports, sea ports, cultural sites).

The topical data base consists at present of various data sets from a multitude of sources. They are correlated to some extent, but a stringent solution of the data bank problem is still open. First steps in establishing a database for the atlas have been made.

The topical data were collected from various sources. Digital topical data sets showed very often similar shortcomings as the digital spatial data. Sometimes they could be supplemented by data from other sources, sometimes not. If the topic was accepted as relevant for the atlas, then even incomplete data sets were used for the map production. The sources are mentioned in the legend.

Digital construction and map design were carried out with the versatile cartographic software package THEMAK2 on UNIX workstations. The implementation of cartographic rules resulted in several suggestions for the improvement of the software.

Up to now maps of several topics were modelled for the atlas. They belong to different atlas sections without stringent order, and they are with E = English or G = German text in map and legend:








Several maps were designed in different sizes and formats with differences in symbolization and colours.

One example is the map of the political boundaries of 1996.

Most maps were designed in several colour schemes with an attempt to assign certain colour hues to specific atlas sections like the use of yellow-orange-red tints for population data, not only in population maps, but also in maps of the economy and the environment in which topical data were correlated with population data.

The map of the world heritage sites 1999 was designed to illustrate the potentials of its integration in a multimedia information system on the World Wide Web. It contains links to the brief descriptions of the UNESCO list ( The World Heritage Sites Map is available in printed format for 1998.

The project group will continue the work and hopes to attract the attention, assistance and co-operation of interested parties. At present maps are in progress which were proposed as topics of a European planning atlas and will portray the consistency of national boundaries, life expectancy, problems of aging population, urban systems, higher education and research investment, tourism.

Parties interested in the project should contact .

Authors: Prof. Dr. U. Freitag, Katja Schröder, FU Berlin, Germany.   Date: 06/17/97, last Update: 04/28/99