100 Thematic maps

Dutch cartographers have determined history. Obviously, cartographers such as Abel Tasman, Jakob Roggeveen, Isaac LeMaire of Willem Barentsz are known for their explorations, but Dutch cartographers have also played an important role in the democratization of cartography, through their role in the development of atlases and in the trading of maps. Names such as Willem Blaeu, Johannes Janssonius and Frederik de Wit are most associated with these developments. Less known, is the role that Dutch cartographers have played in the development of thematic cartography. Yet some techniques for the presentation of  exposure of the spatial expansion of specific themes were developed and applied in the Netherlands. One example is the depth chart of the Spaarne, developed in 1854 by Pieter Bruinsz, the official land surveyor of Rijnland. This map presented the first depth contour line ever plotted and was also the first application of the isobar. Today there are millions of weather maps developed daily all over the world that make use of the isobar.

Thematic maps

These are maps that, while providing a contextual background, show either the distribution of intensity or the features of a certain phenomenon. The presentation of this phenomenon also has the strongest graphical emphasis; the foundation can consist of borders, coastal lines and important places, which assist us in orienting ourselves. Initially, geographical features such as vegetation, geology, precipitation and soil were mapped. Later socio-economic phenomena were added, for which different techniques were developed. The majority of the resulting map types originated in the 19th century. Obviously, a condition for the creation of these maps was sufficient observational data in all of the various geographical areas.


The exhibition 100 Thematic Maps of The Low Countries displays the development of thematic cartography using examples from the Netherlands. Most of the examples come from the map collections of the Utrecht University Library; however, due to the fact that a number of the highlighted pieces were provided by other Dutch collections, this has become a national initiative.


The purpose of making this selection of maps available via this website is primarily to support education in cartography and its history. Both specializations are offered as fields of study at Utrecht University. In addition, there is a large group of people that are interested in (old) maps and who would like to know more about the development of the techniques described here and the results presented.

Selection criteria

A prerequisite for the maps displayed on this site is that they have been manufactured in the Netherlands or the Dutch colonies. Furthermore, either they must have been significant in the development of thematic cartography, or they must be Dutch examples of important new developments. These developments could be graphical, discipline related or concerned with data collection. For example, the soil map from 1837, by Acker Stratingh from Groningen, is based on a survey among all of the teachers from the province who were asked to taste a sample of the soil from their school grounds, determine the type of soil and submit this information!


Every map includes the title, scale, author, publisher (if known), and of course, the bibliographic data so that they can be located in the library. In addition, every map includes a scientific note which explains the significance of the map in the development of thematic cartography with, in some instances, references to relevant related literature. The expert notes were primarily written by prof. dr. F.J. Ormeling jr., Professor of Cartography at Utrecht University. The photography and digitization of the maps was primarily the work of Theo van Pinxteren (ImageFinder).

Contributing Libraries

The digital exhibition includes maps from the following institutions:

  • Rotterdam Municipal Archive
  • The Rijnland District Water Control Board
  • Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands)
  • Tresoar (Frisian Historical and Literary Centre)
  • Library of the Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Utrecht University Library
  • University Library Leiden
  • The Utrecht Archives


The University Library has done its best to identify the copyright holders of the digital maps that are presented here. However, if you hold the copyright to any of the maps represented on this website and have not been contacted by us, please send an e-mail to: m.vanegmond@uu.nl

Further reading

Appendix: List of digitised maps, divided by type and theme


Physical maps




Eclipse map of Europe, Petrus Schenk jr., 1715


Spatial view southern hemisphere, Andreas Cellarius, 1661


Weather map of the Netherlands, H. Tonkes, 1892


Twelve temperature maps in the Klimaatatlas van Nederland, KNMI, 1972




The Spaarne, Pieter Bruinsz., 1584


The Meuse near Rotterdam, Pieter Ancelin, 1697


The Boven-Merwede, Nicolaas Cruquius, 1730


A sheet of the Meuse estuary, Melchior Bolstra, 1739


Map of the extension of the Haarlemmermeer, Melchior Bolstra, ca. 1740


Map of the meanders of the river Waal at Herwen, Melchior Bolstra, 1763


The Marsdiep, J.C. Rijk, 1816


Map of the River region with the dike breaches since the 15th century, Doenardus Jacobus Glimmerveen, ca. 1845


Two sheets of the Rivierkaart van Nederland, Ministerie van Binnenlandsche Zaken en Ministerie van Oorlog, 1846 and 1860


One sheet of the Waterstaatskaart van Nederland, Topografische Inrichting, 1865-1891


One sheet of the Rivierenkaart van Nederland, Rijkswaterstaat, 1960


Geology and soil science


Three sheets of a polythematic map of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Jean Baptiste de Bouge, 1823


Two sheets of the Choro-mineralogische en algemeene hydrographische kaart van een gedeelte der zuidelijke provincien van het Koningrijk der Nederlanden, J.E. van Gorkum, 1833


Soil map of the province of Groningen, G. Acker Stratingh, 1837


Geological map of the Netherlands, Winand Carel Hugo Staring, 1844


Two soil maps of the Netherlands from De bodem van Nederland, Winand Carel Hugo Staring, 1856/60


Geological and agronomical map of Winschoten, Statistieke commissie voor de zaken van den landbouw te Winschoten, 1861


Soil map of the province of Utrecht, J. Kuyper, 1874


Four thematic maps from Nederlanden m.b.t. geologie [...], P.H. Witkamp, 1881


Two sheets of the Geologische kaart van Nederland, Winand Carel Hugo Staring, 1889


One sheet of the Geomorfologische kaart van Nederland, Stichting voor Bodemkartering en Rijks Geologische Dienst, 1979


Two sheets of the Geologische kaart van Nederland, Rijks Geologische Dienst, 1987


Two sheets of the Bodemkaart van Nederland, Stichting voor Bodemkartering, 1987 en 1994




Siege of Bergen op Zoom by Spinola, Bruyer Melée de Mares, 1622


Altitude map of the Netherlands from the Schoolatlas van de geheele aarde, Anton Albert Beekman and Roelof Schuiling, ca. 1893


Altitude map of the town of Utrecht, A. van der Zweep, 1931




Map of the distribution of forests in the Netherlands, H. Blink, 1892


Social economic maps




Population density map from the Natuur- en staatshuishoudkundige atlas van Nederland, J. Kuyper, 1863


Sixteen population statistics maps of the Netherlands, Vereeniging voor de Statistiek in Nederland, 1873


Map of the population growth and decline in the Netherlands 1860-1880, J. Kuyper, 1885


Map of the population density in the Netherlands, J. Kuyper, 1892


Map of the population density in the Netherlands, J. Kuyper, 1898


Population distribution map of the Netherlands, J.C. Ramaer, 1921


Population distribution map in the Netherlands, CBS, 1962


Population distribution map in the Netherlands, CBS, 1962


Population statistics maps of the Netherlands, Stichting Wetenschappelijke Atlas van Nederland, 1984


Cultural features


Map with the distribution of religion in the Atlas minor, Jodocus Hondius, 1607


Language map of Europe, J.C. de Roeder, 1786


Map of the illiteracy in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Hartog Somerhausen, 1827


Map of skull sizes in the Netherlands, A. Sasse, 1878


Map of the political landscape in the Netherlands, L. Rijnink, 1891


Dialect map of the Netherlands, J. te Winkel, 1898


Map with the dialect variation of the word ‘kikvors’ from the Taalatlas van Noord- en Zuid-Nederland, Toniëtte van Beusekom, 1939


Maps of the mail, telex and telephone traffic in the Netherlands, Stichting Wetenschappelijke Atlas van Nederland, 1970




Map of the parcels below Vleuten from the precadastral map book of the St. John's Chapter, 1599


Ecclesiastic administrative map of the Netherlands, Willem Albert Bachiene, 1768


Economic map of Europe, August Friedrich Wilhelm Crome, 1782


Map with the distribution of agricultural and industrial products in Europe, Cornelis van Baarsel, ca. 1800


Four sheets of a political administrative map of the Netherlands Nederlanden, Eugénie Delarue, ca. 1800


One sheet of a administrative map of the kingdom of the Netherlands, Jean Baptiste de Bouge, ca. 1820


Cadastral overview map of Hoogland, Kadaster, ca. 1850


Cadastral map of Koelhorst (municipality of Hoogland), Kadaster, ca. 1850


Choropleths of the Netherlands in Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen, Johan Kuyper, 1857


Polythematic map of the Netherlands, Winand Carel Hugo Staring, 1860


Agricultural map of the Netherlands, Winand Carel Hugo Staring, 1869


Two maps of the distibution of the shipbuilding industry from the Historisch-economische atlas, J.C.A. Everwijn, 1912


Map with the distribution of the bulb cultivation in the western part of the Netherlands, Hendrik Blink, 1912


Map of the metal industry in the Netherlands from the Bedrijfstelling 31 december 1930, CBS, 1930


Map with the distribution of barley from the Landbouwatlas, Economisch-Statistisch Bureau, 1939


Map with the distribution of outdoor vegetables from theTuinbouwatlas van Nederland, Tuinbouwvoorlichtingsdienst, ca. 1940


Dissected map of the Netherlands (Cartophoot), showing the agricultural employment, Geografisch Instituut Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, ca. 1955


Maps showing the distribution of crops and cattle from the Landbouwatlas van Nederland, Ministerie van Landbouw, Visserij en Voedselvoorziening, 1959




Additional map to the town plan of Utrecht, Jacob van Deventer, 1569/70


Polder maps of North Holland from the Atlas novus, Johannes Janssonius en Henricus Hondius, 1638


Map for determining the boundaries in the province of Limburg, Jan Egbert van Gorkum, 1834


Allotment plan of the Haarlemmermeer, ca. 1855


Militairy map of the town of Utrecht with parts of Bunnik and De Bilt, ca. 1875


Town expansion plan of Utrecht, Gemeente Utrecht, 1921


One sheet of the Kaart van distributieve voorzieningen in kleine kernen in Nederland, Bureau voor Ruimtelijke Ordening Van Heesewijk B.V., 1981


Dog taxes map of Nieuwegein, Gemeente Nieuwegein, 1985




Cholera map of Amsterdam, J. Texeira de Mattos, 1866


One sheet from the Sterfte-atlas van Nederland, P.H. Witkamp, 1879


Map of the scarlet fever epidemic in the town of Utrecht, J.L. Hoorweg, 1888


Map of tuberculosis deaths in the Netherlands between 1901-1980, M. van Ravenstijn, ca. 1909


Infrastructure maps


Map of the transport routes in the Netherlands, 1817


Post map of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Édouard Hocquart, 1829


Railway map of the Netherlands, L.J. Tordoir, 1846


Road map of the Netherlands, Topographisch Bureau, 1848


Post map of the Netherlands, Salomo Gille Heringa, 1856


Map of the waterways in the Netherlands, F. de Bas and J. Kuyper, 1880


Map of rivers and canals in the Netherlands, Topografische Inrichting, 1884


Map showing the intensity of the shipping traffic in the Netherlands, Hendrik Blink, 1892


Map of the world traffic in the Bosatlas, J.F. Niermeyer, 1912


Map of the Rijkswegenplan 1932, Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, 1932


Map of the relative accessibility in the Netherlands, J.J. Stieltjes, 1933


Maps of the air traffic in the Netherlands 1920-1932, J.M. Kan, 1933


Map of the 'strippenkaart' zones in the Netherlands, KNVTO, 1987


Historical maps


Historical map of the Netherlands, Pieter van den Keere, 1617


Historical map of the Netherlands from the historical atlas of Menso Alting, 1697


Historical map of the Netherlands, Arend Fokke Simonsz., ca. 1785


Historical map of Zeeland, ca. 1790


Map of the gunpowder catastrophe in Leiden, P. van Campen, 1807


Historical map of the Netherlands, Evert Maaskamp, 1830


World map of the Dutch colonies from the Historische atlas van Nederland, G. Mees, 1865


One sheet of the historical map of Holland, Zeeland and West-Friesland in 1300 from the Geschiedkundige atlas van Nederland, Anton Albert Beekman, 1913-1938


Map of the Dutch wars and colonies in the Groote historische schoolatlas of H. Hettema jr., 1931