China announced on Thursday that its cartographers have finished a 1:50,000-scale map database containing "comprehensive geographic information" after creating detailed maps of two million square km of western regions.
The database will act as an essential geographic reference for China's economic and social development, an official from the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation (NASMG) said at a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet.
Li Weisen, vice director of the NASMG, said that it took five years for more than 7,500 cartographers to finish creating high-resolution maps of the country's two million square km of territory in western provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai, as well as Tibet Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The database contains 5,032 new maps of the vast western regions, most of which is made up of deserts and other sparsely populated areas.
The digital images used to create the maps were captured by 10 satellites and more than 100 aerial surveying craft, according to Zhang Jixian, the NASMG's chief scientist.
China has strived to replicate the economic prosperity of its eastern regions in the west. However, the region's treacherous mountains and deserts, as well as a lack of basic geographical information for the area, have inhibited the construction of the infrastructure needed for increased development and subsequent prosperity.
Zhang said the map database contains a wide range of information on designated areas, including terrain and vegetation, as well as the location of transportation facilities.
"The database will provide essential information for infrastructure construction in the west, such as the west-east natural gas transmission project," Zhang said.
According to Zhang, the database will be updated annually and will primarily be used by government agencies.