[Soviet General Staff Maps] - United Arab Emirates 1:200,000. General'nyí shtab. (United Arab Emirates 1:200,000).

[Moscow, General Staff], 1975, 1979, 1981.

A total of 26 topographic maps, colour-printed, ca. 56 x 47 cm. Constant ratio linear horizontal scale. In Russian (Cyrillic).


All of the Soviet Union's 1:200,000 General Staff map quadrangles showing the United Arab Emirates: from the Russian series of maps produced during the Cold War, based on high-quality satellite imagery, but usually also ground reconnaissance. Assembled continuously (and omitting margins), the quadrangles form an enormous map spanning ca. 3.1 x 2.6 metres! - Products of a massive, clandestine cartographic project begun under Stalin and ultimately encompassing the entire globe, the Soviet General Staff maps are today noted for their extreme precision. Indeed, even in post-Soviet times they provide the most reliable mapping for many remoter parts of the world: "Soviet-era military maps were so good that when the United States first invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, American pilots relied on old Russian maps of Afghanistan. For almost a month after the United States began a bombing campaign to help oust the Taliban government, American pilots were guided by Russian maps dating back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s" (Davies/Kent, p. xi).

Although the details of the cartographic programme evolved over the decades, its overall system and plan remained remarkably constant. "The basic quadrangle is the 1:1,000,000 sheet spanning 4° latitude by 6° longitude [...] Each 1:1,000,000 sheet is [...] subdivided into 36 1:200,000 sheets in a six-by-six grid [... They] normally contain on the reverse side a detailed written description of the districts (towns, communications, topography, geology, hydrology, vegetation, and climate) together with a geological sketch map" (ibid., p. 19-21). "Printing such large-format plans in so many colors with near-perfect print registration itself testifies to the skill of the printers in the military map printing factories across the former Soviet Union. The quality of printing reflects the level of training and the reliability of humidity-control equipment and the electricity supply at the time" (ibid., p. 6f.).

The 1:200,000-scale maps are specifically labelled "For Offical Use". Indeed, all General Staff maps de facto constituted closely guarded military material, none of which became available in the West before the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s.

Some maps stamped "Is not subject to duplicating and copying" on reverse, with a note to apply to the Joint Stock Co., Moscow, for permits. Light traces of folds, occasional wrinkles and a few odd edge flaws, but altogether in excellent condition.

Cf. J. Davies / A. J. Kent, The Red Atlas (Chicago/London, 2017).

Stock Code: BN#50180