New Zealand Cartographic Society

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International Cartographic Association



ICA is the world authoritative body for cartography, the discipline dealing with the conception, production, dissemination and study of maps. Its mission is to promote the discipline and profession of cartography in an international context.

The International Cartographic Association exists:

  • to contribute to the understanding and solution of world-wide problems through the use of cartography in decision-making processes;
  • to foster the international dissemination of environmental, economic, social and spatial information through mapping;
  • to provide a global forum for discussion of the role and status of cartography;
  • to facilitate the transfer of new cartographic technology and knowledge between nations, especially to the developing nations;
  • to carry out or to promote multi-national cartographic research in order to solve scientific and applied problems;
  • to enhance cartographic education in the broadest sense through publications, seminars and conferences;
  • to promote the use of professional and technical standards in cartography.

The Association works with national and international governmental and commercial bodies and with other international scientific societies to achieve these aims.

New Zealand's involvement in the ICA started in 1976 when, at the 5th General Assembly in Moscow, New Zealand had been elected a full member of the ICA. Professor RG Lister from the University of Otago acted as the NZ representative while attending the International Geographical Union meeting at the same time.

In recent years New Zealand continues to maintain its membership and actively participates in the ICA General Assemblies and Conferences.

International Cartographic Association | website
NZ Liaison to ICA: Igor Drecki | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


History of ICA

The International Cartographic Association (ICA) was established by 13 founding members in Bern, Switzerland in 1959. Membership is by nation and by 1991 had grown to 62 member nations. In recent times there has been a significant further increase in membership to over 80 national members and 12 affiliates. From modest beginnings the Association has become a major international organisation.

The foundation meeting of the International Cartographic Association took place in June 1959 with 13 countries attending this assembly in Wabern, near Bern. Those attending included Austria, Belgium, France, West Germany, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. A decision was made at this meeting to formally organise as the International Cartographic Association, with two official languages, English and French.

The purpose of the organisation was to get international cooperation in the fields of cartography and also with the purpose of affiliating the organisation with the International Geographical Union with a certain amount of autonomy. The assembly appointed a provisional Executive Committee with representatives from seven of the participating nations. The mandate of this Committee was to organise the first General Assembly of Delegates in Paris in 1961.

The first Assembly of Delegates took place in Paris in 1961. The meeting was attended by 84 delegates from 29 nations. This meeting had an extensive social programme and is probably the most glamorous the ICA has ever held. It included dinner at the Eiffel Tower, a cruise on the River Seine, a night visit to the Louvre Museum and a visit to a fashion parade at Christian Dior. As part of the business programme, delegates adopted the Statues of the organisation, thereby formally creating the ICA. There were 26 countries inaugurated as member countries.

ICA is officially registered as an idealistic non-profit organisation in the Swedish national organisation register since 20 January 2000 (number 885002-1018).





Definition of a Map*
A map is a symbolised image of geographical reality, representing selected features or characteristics, resulting from the creative effort of its author's execution of choices, and is designed for use when spatial relationships are of primary relevance.

Definition of Cartography*
Cartography is the discipline dealing with the conception, production, dissemination and study of maps.

Definition of a Cartographer*
A cartographer is a person who engages in cartography.

*Adopted by the 10th General Assembly of the International Cartographic Association, Barcelona, Spain, 3 September 1995.