GeoInformation Technologies and Map Projections of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation


Maria E. Fleis (, Michael M. Borisov (, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Science

Michael V. Alexandrovich (, Moscow State University, Geographical faculty
Moscow, Russia


The respect to a country begins from attention to its territory imaging on geographic maps. The territory of Russia is very large, especially from East to West, so projection selection essentially influences the cartographic face of the country. Quite a number of remarkable projections for maps of Russia and the USSR has been on developed, but they are not always presented enough in GIS-technologies. Lots of maps were prepared on these projections, and they might be included into geographic data circulation. But although projection selection for a new map allows some freedom, projection definition for existing map requires precision.

Map projections must be easy for practical use. The 1957 Atlas for Selection of Map Projections was the most handy for a long time. It included formulas, tables of rectangular coordinates and linkage between projections and geographic regions. Nowadays computer technologies are preferred; furthermore its advisable to have projection information on the Web. A list of main projections for small-scale maps of Russia and the USSR is provided as a web-project illustrated with maps and including information on the ways of projection definition in ArcGIS, MapInfo and GeoGraph GIS software products.

The most commonly used projection for small-scale maps is the Equidistant Conic with two standart parallels (Delisle projection). It seems to be first applied for the General map of Russian Empire (Kirilovs map, 1734) and then for the map of Russia in the Atlas published in 1745. The face of our country on geographic maps, usual for the present-day view, was mainly formed exactly then.

Delisle projections advantages noted by Euler consist in equality of latitude degrees, true proportion between longitude and latitude degrees for two specially selected standard parallels and ortogonal crossing of parallels and meridians. Straight meridians allow every map part to be copied as a separate map.

Standard parallels on Delisle projection may be different and they are usually not shown on maps. A web-application is developed and published at GRC IGRAS site ( determining conic projection parameters using entered rectangular coordinates and creating projection description file for some GIS software products. This application allowed us to provide a superficial projection analysis for the maps mentioned above. It was found that their parameters differ and dont match parameters pointed in literature. Full map projection description suitable for GIS software allowes GIS-technologies usage for comparative analysis of old and new maps. In this paper, common principles of projection setting in ArcGIS, MapInfo and GeoGraph GIS software products are defined and their realisation for Delisle projection is shown.