Soviet military maps were regularly updated until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and remain still among the best available maps for Africa. The Military Topographic Directorate (V.T.U.) was probably the most comprehensive mapping organization in the world. It is estimated that 35,000 to 40,000 cartographers worked for the Russian mapping program in 1996 - a time when the program was hardly at its zenith. The program extended to a number of African countries including Angola, Mozambique, Somalia and Libya.

In the quest for “African GIS data accessible to all” MadMappers have released for free download the topographic 1:500 000 scale map collection covering the whole African continent. The 515 maps have been re-projected to geographic (lat/lon) WGS84 and collar clipped so that a continental mosaic could be compiled. Files are geo-referenced and in the compact ER Mapper ecw format characterized by wavelet compression and indexed zoom levels which result in fast loading and low random memory requirements.

We have divided the maps according to the hemisphere:

Northern Africa: 334 maps

Southern Africa: 181 maps

Also available: a Cyrillic alphabet chart, a list of Russian map terms, a Map legend and a DVD set.