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Archive for the ‘Maps’ Category

From the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas

Posted by Laurie Frost on May 21, 2011

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas has an extensive collection of digitized maps of the world, continents, nations, major cities, and US states (with a sub-collection of Texas maps), ranging from contemporary to historical, thematic to topographic.

Here is what you need to know about the public domain status of the maps:

Are the maps copyrighted?

Most of the maps scanned by the University of Texas Libraries and served from this web site are in the public domain. No permissions are needed to copy them. You may download them and use them as you wish. We appreciate credit to “University of Texas Libraries” as the source of the scanned images.

A few maps are copyrighted, and are clearly marked as such. Any that are copyrighted by The University of Texas are subject to our Materials Usage Guidelines. The U.S. Government may claim copyright outside of the U.S. for maps such as nautical and aeronautical charts. We recommend that those wanting to republish these maps outside the U.S. should contact their publishers.

A few maps include the official seal of a U.S. Government agency. Federal law prohibits use of these seals in connection with any merchandise, impersonation, solicitation, or commercial activity in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the agency.

We do appreciate hearing from you about your uses of these materials and we would also appreciate your giving this site credit when it is referred to in anything you publish. Other sites may link to our site or to individual maps without our permission.

Other map-related web sites we link to are frequently protected by copyright. Contact them for information about their usage policies.

Please Note: Maps on other web sites which we link to are subject to the copyright restrictions of those sites. Please contact them for their copyright information. If you are uncertain whether a particular map is on our site or another site look at the url. If, when viewing the map, it begins with “” then it is on our server.

For today’s post, I’ve selected some of the more unusual maps. Use the titles to find the image pages for downloading or zooming in on details.

The first two are from “Illustrations of Japan consisting of private memoirs and anecdotes of the reigning dynasty of the Djogouns, or sovereigns of Japan…” by Isaac Titsingh, London: R. Ackermann, 1822, and are in the Asia Historical Maps category.

Japan – “Earthquake and Eruption of the Mountain of Asama-yama, in the province of Sinano.”

Japan – “The Chinese Factory in the Street of Teng-chan at Nagasaki, founded in 1688.” [Note: During the period of Japanese seclusion, the Chinese, like the Dutch, were allowed to reside and trade in a restricted area in Nagasaki.]

Also in Asia Historical Maps is this one from “Cho-Khang, The Grand Temple of Buddha at Lhasa” from Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet by Sarat Chandra Das, 1902.

[Tibet] Grand Temple at Lhasa 1902

The next two are from Middle East Historical Maps, and although both are of Babylon, they hardly seem to be maps of the same places. The first appeared in Travels in Chaldaea, including a journey from Bussorah to Bagdad, Hillah, and Babylon, performed on foot in 1827, published by Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, London, 1829. I like the descriptive bits, like, “The whole ground exhibits irregular hillocks and mounds.”

From Iraq and the Persian Gulf, Great Britain. Naval Intelligence Division, 1944.

Any map that mentions Terra incognita gets my attention, and there are several that do in the section Historical Maps of Polar Regions and Oceans, among them, Wytfliet’s Map of the Southern Continent, 1597.

From The Scottish Geographical Magazine Vol. XVI, No. 1, 1900.

The next one is from Historical Maps of the United States. I wonder how a map of the distribution of wealth based on 2010 census data would compare.

From The Statistics of the Population of the United States, Compiled from the Original Returns of the Ninth Census, 1872.

Finally, The Notable High Buildings of the World 1896, in the category Historical World Maps featured in Rand, McNally & Co.’s Universal Atlas of The World. Edition 1896.

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CIA World Factbook Photos, 8: American Samoa, French Polynesia, Guam, Fiji

Posted by Laurie Frost on December 5, 2009

On a cold winter’s night we head to the South Seas for more public domain photos from the CIA World Factbook, starting with French Polynesia. To remind you, to download these photos, start with the homepage (see link above) and use the dropdown menu “Select a Country or Location,” and that will take you to that country’s page for maps, flags, photos (in some cases) and a lot of information. 

Bora Bora, French Polynesia 

Downtown Bora Bora 

Moorea, French Polynesia 


Pago Pago, American Samoa 


Kuata, Yasawa Islands Group, Fiji 


Two Lovers’ Point, Guam 

Below: Map of Oceania, and small maps in which squares denote relative locations of the four countries in this post. The maps, like the images are in the public domain and courtesy of the CIA World Factbook



Clockwise: Locations of American Samoa, Guam, French Polynesia, and Fiji 

The flag of French Polynesia






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CIA World Factbook Photos, 7: Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, South Korea, Japan

Posted by Laurie Frost on December 2, 2009

Incense coils, Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong

With this lovely picture of what must be a most fragrant temple, we begin our last stop in the Asian stretch of the public domain pictures of the world series taken from the nations’ pages in the CIA World Factbook.

Hong Kong

Leal Senado (Loyal Senate) building [right], Senate Square, Macau

Macau is. like Hong Kong,  a “special administrative region of China.” The CIA Factbook explains:

Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China on 20 December 1999. In this agreement, China promised that, under its “one country, two systems” formula, China’s socialist economic system would not be practiced in Macau, and that Macau would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.

Location of Macau is marked with a dot on the regional map.

The Chocolate Hills: A few of the nearly 1,300 cone-shaped hills found in a 50 square kilometer area near Bohol, Philippines

The “Bridge of No Return” in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea used for prisoner exchanges when Korean War ended.

Gyeongbokgung royal palace, Seoul, South Korea

Mount Fuji, Japan

Imperial Palace and Nijubashi Bridge, Tokyo, Japan

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CIA World Factbook: Maps

Posted by Laurie Frost on November 5, 2009

The CIA World Factbook is a great source for public domain maps. On the opening page under Reference: Regional Maps, you can choose from 16 maps of continents, world regions, or the world at large, and from the drop-down menu on this page, you can access several hundred national or regional maps. That these maps are in the public domain is explained by this notice:

CIA Factbook Copyright Notice

Unless a copyright is indicated, information on the Central Intelligence Agency Web site is in the public domain and may be reproduced, published or otherwise used without the Central Intelligence Agency’s permission. We request only that the Central Intelligence Agency be cited as the source of the information and that any photo credits or bylines be similarly credited to the photographer or author or Central Intelligence Agency, as appropriate.

If a copyright is indicated on a photo, graphic, or any other material, permission to copy these materials must be obtained from the original source.

This copyright notice does not pertain to information at Web sites other than the Central Intelligence Agency Web site.

Regional maps, for example of the Arctic [Arctic pdf], are available as jpegs and pdfs. What I can show you here are the jpegs, but I’m also giving you the pdf links. The pdfs are, as you’d expect, much crisper.

Oceania [pdf]:

and the Middle East [pdf]:

Once you choose a country from the drop-down menu, you’ll discover a useful feature. The relative location of nations and territories on their continent is provided as a secondary map. In other words, let’s say you need a map of Andorra.


While the country map gives you some notion of where the nation is since you can see that it borders Spain and France, the secondary map gives a better idea of where the Spanish-French border is interrupted by this small country, its area just 2.5 times the size of Washington DC.


For each nation, the maps are accompanied by a drop-down menu for 9 items ranging from a general introduction to descriptions of its people, government, geography, economy, military, communications, transportation, and transnational issues.

For example, on Andorra’s page, under Background, we learn

For 715 years, from 1278 to 1993, Andorrans lived under a unique co-principality, ruled by French and Spanish leaders (from 1607 onward, the French chief of state and the Spanish bishop of Urgel). In 1993, this feudal system was modified with the titular heads of state retained, but the government transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Long isolated and impoverished, mountainous Andorra achieved considerable prosperity since World War II through its tourist industry. Many immigrants (legal and illegal) are attracted to the thriving economy with its lack of income taxes.

By the way, at seven-tenths the size of Washington DC’s Mall [or .44 sq km]  the world’s smallest sovereign state (and third smallest in population) recognized in the CIA World Factbook is the Holy See (Vatican City).

Maps of the Gaza Strip and West Bank are included:

Gaza Strip

You would need to know what area of the world the Gaza Strip is in for the map above to make much sense, but compare it to the regional map in the first part of the post, and you’ll see that the white area here represent water.

Territories are also mapped. Here are South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, UK territories, also claimed by Argentina.

Location of South Georgia and Sandwich Islands relative to South America.

These islands aren’t the only territorial disputes that the UK is handling; according to the CIA World Factbook:

in 2002, Gibraltar residents voted overwhelmingly by referendum to reject any “shared sovereignty” arrangement between the UK and Spain;… Spain disapproves of UK plans to grant Gibraltar greater autonomy; Mauritius and Seychelles claim the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory), and its former inhabitants since their eviction in 1965;…in May 2006, the High Court of London reversed the UK Government’s 2004 orders of council that banned habitation on the islands; UK rejects sovereignty talks requested by Argentina, which still claims the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands;… Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark’s claim that the Faroe Islands’ continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm.

Here we also learn that the long form of what we abbreviate as UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Great Britain includes England, Scotland, and Wales) and that its dependencies include

Anguilla, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands.

location of Gibraltar

location of Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

location of British Indian Ocean Territory

location of Faroe Islands








The United States has its own share of dependencies:

American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island

note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)

Where are the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth of the US?  Back to the drop-down menu, and on to these maps and facts:

location of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Northern Pacific Ocean

Northern Mariana Islands

Not far away are the Federated States of Micronesi, Palau,  and the Marshall Islands.

Federated States of Micronesia

Marshall Islands



location of Federated States of Micronesia location of Marshall Islands

location of Palau

The US  connection to these islands began in WWII. In the Marshall Islands,

Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.

And what about Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, and Palmyra Atoll?

location of the United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges

United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges

Collectively designated  the United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges,

“These remote refuges are the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet under a single country’s jurisdiction. They sustain many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere.”

There are

“no indigenous inhabitants” and “public entry is by special-use permit from US Fish and Wildlife Service only and generally restricted to scientists and educators.”

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