National Maps for Switzerland

View Live Map →

Why We Love It

The stakes were high when Switzerland modernized its biggest official map series — a reliable and familiar product since the 1950s. The original topo maps, widely regarded as some of the best in the world, are much loved by the Swiss people. We love the update because the series is instantly recognizable as Swiss topo, but with a clean, fresh feel.

Why It Works

Swiss maps are known for reliability, high detail, and aesthetic appeal. This map series does not disappoint. It works as a reference tool for land-use planning, environmental protection, and security. It can also underpin leisure activities such as hiking, cycling, and climbing. The sans serif fonts are easy to read. Color was added to the roads for hierarchy, and rail lines (an important part of Swiss life) are emphasized in red.

Important Steps

This map series is built on database-driven symbology and editing (representations) to construct a digital cartographic model.

Automated generalization tools allowed hours of tedious work to be offloaded to computers.

These maps use the latest hill-shading techniques to offer realistic terrain in depicting Switzerland's famous mountains.

Because these maps are digital and constantly updated, they can be delivered in many formats, on-demand, with little need for human labor.



Landscape data was collected in the topographical landscape model (TLM) in 3D form. Data from a wide variety of sources, such as the Swiss National Land Survey, is held in the TLM for labels.


Content is selected from the TLM (database) and simple features are drawn automatically. Cartographers process the more complex cases. The result of all this is known as the digital cartographic model from which the national maps are developed.


Making national series reference maps is a multiyear process. Production began in 2013, with the publication of the first maps in 2014. Complete publication is scheduled for 2019.



Explore multilayered representation symbols with geometric effects to get a rich depiction of map features. Create custom symbols by constructing representation marker symbols from existing glyphs or basic graphics.

Processing Data


Use the data-driven aspects of representations to manage accurate depictions of map features. Use representation overrides to display specialized features.

Artistic Expression


Use layer masking to differentiate annotation from map symbols and to introduce a sense of vertical hierarchy at overpasses. Use symbol-level drawing and group layers to manage the order of different feature groups and masks.

More Information

Map Author



@swisstopo | Facebook | YouTube

Made by the Federal Office of Topography Swisstopo (Switzerland), Cartography Division

Start making maps with a free 60-day trial of ArcGIS.

Try ArcGIS →