Surveying and mapping in Vietnam has a long history and tradition. Together with the rises and fall of Vietnam as a nation and people, surveying and mapping sector has made remarkable achievements in its own modern history.
After the August revolution and the foundation of the State of Democratic Republic of Vietnam in September 2nd 1945, Mapping Department of General Staff – the first mapping agency of Vietnamese People's Army was established in the 25th September 1945.
In 1954, the French was defeated and the northern of Vietnam was liberated. December 14th 1959, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong had signed Decree No. 444-TTg to officially establish the Department of Survey and Mapping under direct management of the Prime Minister, the first Vietnamese surveying and mapping agency.
Nearly 50 years over since the foundation, history of Department of Survey and Mapping can be divided as follows:
I. Department of Survey and Mapping under direct management of the the Prime Minister period
Department of Survey and Mapping of the Prime Minister’s Office was established according to the Government Decree No.444-TTg on the 14th of December 1959, has responsibilities to carry out state managements on survey and mapping activities and implementation of national survey and mapping work. The first employees were 200 cadres from the Mapping Department of General Staff of Vietnamese People's Army and 1121 volunteer workers on 12B route.
In this period, the most remarkable achievement of the Department of Survey and Mapping was completion and submission to the Government the Decree of Government to promulgate for unified application of national coordinate system HN-72. This was one of the most significant projects of the Department of Survey and Mapping, a symbol of the scientific and technological potential of Vietnam as a sovereign nation.
In addition to the state management tasks in survey and mapping and implementation of basic survey and mapping works, the Department of Survey and Mapping has also conducted and participated in thematic mapping for other sectors and local governments.
From application of the first generation of computers for surveying and mapping, nowadays, the technicians and programming staff of the Department of Survey and Mapping are capable to implement informational technology for related all kinds of work survey and mapping.
In very first days of foundation, the Department of Survey and Mapping had also made a great attention to the map projections for accurate mapping of the territory of Vietnam and regional countries at different scales. A book on map projections for Vietnam and Indochina peninsular was published in 1977.
II. The period of State department of Survey and Mapping (1974-1994)
To implement Resolution No.415-NQ/QH-K4 on January 29th 1974 of Standing Committee of the National Assembly, the Cabinet council had issued the Decree No.106-CP on the 3rd of May 1974 about the change of the Department of Survey and Mapping of the Prime Minister’s Office to State Department of Survey and Mapping under the direct management of the Council of Ministers. This was an important turning-point of the organization. This was given to survey and mapping of Vietnam a higher position and a more important role in state management on survey and mapping activities and implementation of basic survey and mapping.
The period of State department of Survey and Mapping had marked an essential development in organizational structure, management mechanism, facilities, technical and technological renovation of the agency. These were essential for more efficient state management in survey and mapping and creation of higher quality and more qualified survey and mapping products. In 1989, the State Department of Survey and Mapping celebrated its 30 years foundation anniversary. In this anniversary, General Vo Nguyen Giap had attended and highly appreciated the achievements of the survey and mapping sector during 30 years of development.
III. General Department of Land Administration period (1994-2002)
On the 22th of February 1994, the Vietnamese Government promulgated Decree No. 12/CP to establish General Department of Land Administration based on merging of State Department of Survey and Mapping and General Department of Land management. The Department of Survey and Mapping is an agency under General Department of Land Administration who is responsible for state management functions in survey and mapping, which included also cadastral survey and mapping.
In this period, in additional to state management for survey and mapping activities these had been development and completion of the technical regulations for cadastral surveying, which enabled guidance and instruction for a nationally unified cadastral mapping.
The Decree No.12/2002/NĐ-CP for survey and mapping activities has been promulgated in January 22th 2002 marked a new development in state management for survey and mapping.
July 12th 2000, the Prime Minister promulgated Resolution No.83/2000/QĐ-TTg to publicly announce that the National Reference and Coordinate System VN-2000 is being used as national datum.
Since 1995, General Department of Land Administration has carried out mapping 63 map sheets of Vietnam – Laos border at scale of 1/ 50.000, determining coordinates of 116 border marks amongst 214 border marks on Vietnam - Laos border according to the agreement between two countries.
In 2000, Department of Survey and Mapping accomplished mapping 34 Vietnam-China topographic border map sheets at the scale of 1:50000. This map was used for negotiation and signing of the in-land border agreement between Vietnam and China. Department of Survey and Mapping also set up three fixed D-GPS stations in Lai Chau, Ha Giang and Cao Bang provinces to use for border marking between Vietnam and China. Since 2001, Department of Survey and Mapping has carried out in-land border marking and coordinate determination of around 1200 border marks.
The Department of Survey and Mapping has also prepared all necessary surveying and mapping documents for negotiation between Vietnam and Cambodia on border issues.
The Department of Survey and Mapping has prepared all necessary maps for negotiation between relevant countries on the Eastern Sea (South China Sea) border issues.
Together with the Personnel and Organising Committee of the Vietnamese Government (Now is Ministry of Internal Affairs), the Department of Survey and Mapping accomplished the Vietnam administrative border map for management of administrative borders between provinces, districts and communes.
IV. Period of Department of Survey and Mapping under direct management of Ministry of Natuaral Resources and Environment (from 2002 up to now).
May 8th 2002, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s National Assembly issued a resolution on establishment of the Ministry of Natuaral Resources and Environment. November 11th 2002, Vietnamese Government promulgates Decree No. 91/2002/NĐ-CP to define the functions, duties, authority and organization structure of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. According to this resolution, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for state management of land resources, water resources, mineral resources, environments, hydro-meteorology, survey and mapping in Vietnam. Among the organizations under management of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Department of Survey and Mapping, has been re-established in the beginning of 2003, is responsible for assisting the Minister in state management for survey and mapping.
This is period of digital technology development in survey and mapping. To satisfy requirements from the local authorities and organizations, the Ministry is implementing a number of projects to establish base topographic database for GIS which are expected to meet the demands on management and other requirements from local and regional organizations and authorities.
The most new remarkable achievements in this period could be highlighted by 2004, when the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has completed establishment of the national geoditic control network for cadastral surveying and the topographic maps at scale of 1:50000 for whole of Vietnam, and introducing for use of National D-GPS positioning stations in December 2004 on the occasion of Survey and Mapping Day and the 45 years anniversary of the Department of Survey and Mapping.