Geographic Information Systems And Cartography Workgroup

Atlas of the Republic of Poland


Most of the countries of the world have their national atlases – representative cartographic works providing comprehensive char-acterizations of those countries within their present boundaries. In many of them successive updated and modernized editions of such atlas-encyclopaedias are being prepared or have already been published. This is the company that Poland is just joining, for the National Atlas of Poland from the years 1973–1978 unavailable on the market should already for many reasons – be regarded as out of date. In Poland – a country undergoing significant changes of the political system – making current information on the particular components of the natural environment and on different aspects of social and economic life available to the people is of special importance. The above motivation was the basis of a mutual initiative to elaborate and publish a new national atlas by the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Surveyor General of Poland representing the National Geodetic and Cartographic Service.

The general concept of the ATLAS came into being at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The editing has been done by the Institute’s Cartographic and Geographical Information Systems Laboratory, which has also coodinated the work of a 164-strong team of authors from 10–20 academic centres and research institutes. In order to secure a high scientific level of the ATLAS, the whole of the auctorial and editorial work has been supervised by the 39-member Scientific Board of the ATLAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND appointed by the Surveyor-General of Poland and headed by Professor Jerzy Kondracki of Warsaw University. The Board is made up of specialists representing various disciplines in geography and related fields and has provided assisstance in resolving the methodological problems which arose in the course of work on the ATLAS. Indeed, a fundamental technological breakthrough did occur in the period. The technical editing and production of the originals for the first two parts of the ATLAS are the fruits of work by a team of editors and cartographers from PPWK (the E. Romer Polish Cartographic Publishing House) in Warsaw. In turn, technical work on almost all of the maps in the third and fourth part has been done by cartographers and computer opearators from the Cartographic and Geographical Information Systems Laboratory, assisted ably by colleagues from the UNEP/GRID Environmental Information Centr in Warsaw. The six-sheet review map on the scale 1:500 000 is the work of PPG-K, which also did all the preparatory work on printing, as well as the printing itself. In the name of the Surveyor-General, publishing obligations were fullfilled until 1996 by the Cadastre, Survey and Cartographic Department of the former Ministry of Planning and Construction, and from 1997 by the Department of the Cartography and Photogrammetry of the Central Office of Survey and Cartography.

While working on the concept of the scope and arrangement of the contents, graphic solutions and editing form of the ATLAS, the basic principle was to make it – to the greatest possible extent – compliant with the needs and demands of its prospective users. This is why the ATLAS is a one-volume work, however, it was successively published in four thematic parts in the form of separate map sheets bound by a common etui.

Each part of the ATLAS is a closed thematic whole. Part I contains maps providing elementary information on the territory of the country (including a 6-sheet general map), its history and the spatial organization of the state and the people. Part II consists of maps presenting the geological structure, relief, waters, climate, vegetation and fauna, as well as transformations and protection of the natural environment. Part III presents the population – its distribution, development, structure, etc. – and different social issues: e.g. living standard, education, health protection and public security. Last but not least – part IV, devoted to the economy, depicts the condition of its particular sectors and their mutual relationships.

Each part of the ATLAS is preceded by an introduction which discusses is contents in brief, moreover – on the back side of each map sheet there is – apart from the list of maps it includes and the index of source material – a short, chiefly methodological comment. The textual part included in the ATLAS (editors’ information, prefaces) is completed with a list of all maps and authors, members of the Scientific Board, and an index of names, which are published together with its part IV. In order to meet the needs of prospective foreign users all legends and texts of the ATLAS are bilingual – Polish and English.

The concept of the ATLAS takes into account – following the example of a few foreign atlases – the possibility of completing the elementary set of maps. Thus the ATLAS has been included by the Surveyor General of Poland in the elementary programme of the National Geodetic and Cartographic Service as its official publication. The accepted rule is also that of permanent guidance and updating of the work instead of publishing successive editions at certain time intervals. Therefore additional single map sheets are to be published in succession which the users will be able to include in the already possessed ATLAS. These will be both new themes and the updated versions of maps that have been published before. This is the concept that the internal structure of the ATLAS is subordinate to, which is reflected by the overtness of the map sheet numbering system which takes into account a given thematic section they belong to and their place in it. Each possible new sheet will be provided with an appropriate number within a given thematic section, which will make it easier to place it among the already possessed sheets.

We expect the knowledge about the country included in the ATLAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND to be profitably made use of by politicians, civil servants and social workers, as well as all other citizens interested in the said knowledge. The ATLAS should also be an important and useful didactic aid in school education at different levels. We are of the opinion that it will well serve our integration with Europe, enabling our foreign partners to acquire better knowledge on Poland.


The Editorial Board