Institute of Surveying and Mapping




Message of the Surveyor General

The Survey Department of Sri Lanka serves as the National Agency for Survey and Mapping, and holds this particular responsibility to the Nation. The department was established in the present form in the year 1800.The continuous existence for 218 years for any public organization is a matter that can be recorded with pride.

The Survey Department has played a leading role in most of the development activities in Sri Lanka. Few of the major contributions are; Surveys for Land Settlement, Land Development, Land Reform, Mahaweli Development Project, Galoya Irrigation Project, Southern Highway Project, Central Highway, Southern Habour development project, Southern Airport establishment project, Power generation projects, establishment of Geodetic Control Network and upgrading same to a higher level of accuracy with the introduction of Global Positioning System (GPS), publishing the National Atlas in all three languages (Sinhala, Tamil and English), One inch to One Mile Map Series for the entire country, which was subsequently replaced by 1 : 50,000 Topographic Map Series, 1 : 10,000 Topographical Map Series for 80% of the country, 1 : 2,000 City Maps of Colombo and suburbs, and establishment of Topographic Vector Databases at the scales of 1 : 250,000, 1 : 50,000 and 1 : 10,000.

One of the major tasks undertaken after 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka was mapping the affected coastal areas to enable efficient and effective decision making in relief and rehabilitation measures. Major on-going activities of the Department under new developing concepts of the Government are; carrying out surveys to map and database each and every piece of land in the country to issue owners with a clear title under ‘Bim Saviya’ programme, contributing to Northern Highway Project, Acquisition and resettlement surveys to resettle the displaced citizens in the North-East region of the country.

Further, the Survey Department is enriched with the latest technology in the field of Geo-information handling and management. It is all the time engaged in research for exploring science and technology to cope up with dramatic change of new technology that opens the gate for the improvement of the country’s development for the wellbeing of the nation.

Survey Department is guiding its employees to perform their services for the development of the country with honesty and dedication, upholding the noble traditions of the profession.

I am privileged to convey this message as the 48th Surveyor General of the Survey Department of Sri Lanka.


Surveyor General







Message of the Director


As the Director/ Senior Deputy Surveyor General (Training) of the Institute of Surveying & Mapping, Diyatalawa (ISMD), I am privileged to introduce the Institute of Surveying and Mapping as the backbone of the Survey Department of Sri Lanka in producing qualified and professional surveyors to the country.
Institute of Surveying and Mapping is dedicated to have its services to the nation since its inception. The initiating idea of formal training for Surveyors was in the mind of Mr. G.Snider (1811-1833) when he was a Principal Surveyor in charge of Colombo district. He personally taught mathematics and astronomy for Apprentice Surveyors. The first formal training was started by Mr. W.C.S. Ingles on 19th October 1896. Those who successfully completed the training were offered the opportunity to either join Survey Department, as Apprentice Surveyors or to pass the Surveyor General’s licensing exam and practice as Licensed Surveyors.
With the introduction of first tertiary education establishment in the country, the Maradana technical college, training of Surveyors was handed on to Maradana technical college in 1908. Surveyors trained at Maradana Technical College were provided a practical training at the Survey Department and recruited as Trainee Surveyors. However, this training process was found not up to standards and Surveyor General decided to have a Training School run by the Survey Department. As a result the Surveyor General’s Training School was established 1n 1910 at uplands, Modara. As the building used as training school at Modara was in dilapidated condition, a new location had to be found out.

Finally, an ideal location was found for the training school, which was the deserted Boer war prisoner’s camp located in Diyatalawa. Accordingly, the Surveyor General Mr. A.J. Wickwar ordered to start the Surveyor General’s Training School in Diyatalawa on 1st March 1924. Over time, It was necessary to introduce new technologies such as Photogrammetry, Electromagnetic Distance Measurements, etc to improve survey standards. As a result, the Surveyor General’s Training School was upgraded as Institute of Surveying and Mapping on 21st of February 1967 with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme. Later Institute of Surveying and Mapping was incorporated under Parliamentary Act no. 21 of 1969.

With the rapid development of the Land Surveying, Geo Informatics, Satellite Positioning, Remote Sensing, Soft Photogrammetry and Geographic Information Systems, commencement of a Bachelor Degree Course in Surveying was very much in demand. The Institute of Surveying & Mapping commenced the first Bachelor Degree Course in Surveying in the country empowered by the Gazette no. 620/4 issued by the Higher Education Ministry on 24th July 1990.

Institute of Surveying & Mapping has been serving to the nation as pioneering education in Geo Informatics and Land Management. Our focal point is to be the best educational institute in Land Management and Geo Informatics in the Asian region.

A. Dissanayake,
Director/ Senior Deputy Surveyor General (Training),
Institute of Surveying and Mapping,


3D Model of Institute of Surveying and Mapping

History of Institute of Surveying and Mapping Diyatalawa.

The Institute of Surveying & Mapping functions under the Sri Lanka Survey Department (SLSD) which was established by a proclamation of the Governor dated 02nd August 1800, just after four years of British occupation of the island; thus, the Sri Lanka Survey Department is the oldest civil state department in the country.

The first training course (formal) for surveyors was commenced on 20th October 1896 at the Govt. Technical College in Colombo, and later training was entrusted to departmental officers. As a result of this the Sri Lanka Survey Department started its own training school at Modara in 1912, with the practical training conducted at Padukka closer to Colombo. In 1924, the training school, was shifted to its present location at Diyatalwa. It was upgraded in 1968, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Institute of Surveying & Mapping Diyatalwa (ISMD) was established by an Act of Parliamentn No. 21 of 1969

The Main function

Prior to 1967, the training activities were purely confined to the training of surveyors for Survey Department. Afterwards, the institute, being the largest and leading institute that provides training in surveying has gradually taken over almost all the basic training needs of the Survey Department and some other organizations at their request.

With the rapid and continuous development in the profession of surveying and mapping, ISMD has appropriately changed its functions so as to fulfil the current needs.

The main functions of ISMD at present can be categorically given as:

  • To promote the sound application of surveying and mapping technology through programs of education, research and advisory services.

  • To hold examinations for the purpose of ascertaining the persons who have acquired proficiency in surveying, levelling and mapping.

  • To grant diplomas to persons who have pursued approved courses of study in the institute and who have passed the examinations of the institute.

  • To grant the degree in surveying sciences to persons who have pursued the course and been successful in the examinations.

  • To update the knowledge and skills of relevant officers, organize regular refresher courses.

Recognition of ISMD as a Degree awarding institute

The necessity of the advanced training facilities in Land Surveying and related fields in order to award degrees and diplomas, for instance postgraduate diploma, arose considerably during the recent past. As Sri Lankans, we were thoroughly depending on institutes abroad for such professional level and Land Survey related needs. Only a few officers in the Survey Department would secure such opportunities by way of foreign grants and scholarships. Hence, it was of great importance to upgrade the Institute of Surveying and Mapping as a degree awarding institute in Surveying Sciences.

In 1990, the Minister of Higher Education by an extraordinary gazette notification No. 620/4 dated 1990.07.24 upgraded the Institute of Surveying and Mapping as a degree awarding institute under the section 25A of the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978. Once again UNDP played a prominent role by making necessary funds to strengthen ISMD physically and finally, converting it to academically sound institute through a five-year project commenced in 1990. Under this project, many lecturers were trained overseas and infrastructure facilities of ISMD were upgraded. After all, the ISMD started to conduct a four-year degree course in Survey Sciences in addition to diploma courses. Since the first-degree course was inaugurated on 04th October 1990, Twelve batches passed out and 450 students were conferred with their degrees by now.