H. Asche

Geoinformation Group, Department of Geography, University of Potsdam



Demographic data are pivotal for the development of any country. After the political turnaround of the early 1990s this holds especially true for the post-communist reform states of central and southeast Europe. Among those are countries like Albania which had long been isolated from the outside world or Croatia which has emerged as an independent state from the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. In recent and ongoing R&D projects with both countries demographic atlases have been developed to cater for fundamental requirements of geodemographic information in politics, the economy and the emerging civil society. This paper deals with the GIS-based development and multidimensional visualisation of demographic atlas maps for Albania and Croatia.


The Demographic Atlas of Albania has been developed in a multinational effort within the wider framework of the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. All atlas maps have been constructed and processed in a dedicated atlas GIS. This digital platform allows for the production and publication of a conventional paper atlas as well as for the development and implementation of a web based demographic atlas information system. The paper atlas has been published as a pilot project for a future national Albanian atlas information system. The corresponding web atlas is under development. Both atlas versions consist of classic 2D thematic map types visualising basic information on the country’s demographic, political and physical structures following the start of the transformation period. In addition to static read-only maps the web-based version offers a range of interactive maps and animated time-series maps visualised to fully exploit the potential of the electronic distribution medium.


In an ongoing R&D project with Croatian geographers and a Croatian publishing house a new Demographic Atlas of Croatia (DAC) is currently being developed. Based on a GIS platform like its Albanian forerunner, the DAC will provide fundamental information on the structures, composition, distribution, natural and spatial developments and trends of the Croatian population, complemented by regional case studies. Targeted at the general public, educators as well as decision makers in politics and the economy, the atlas will be produced as a conventional book volume and a complementary electronic atlas information system. Cartographic visualisation will include the full range of classical demographic 2D map types complemented by experimental 3D maps of selected demographic topics. Focusing on map use, potential and constraints of 3D mapping in atlas cartography will be exemplified with demographic data from Croatia and Albania.