About FIG

History of FIG

FIG was founded in 1878 in Paris and was known as the Fédération Internationale des Géomètres. This has become anglicized to the International Federation of Surveyors. It is a UN-recognized non-government organization (NGO), representing more than 120 countries throughout the world, and its aim is to ensure that the disciplines of surveying and all who practise them meet the needs of the markets and communities that they serve.

A history of FIG from 1878-1987 has been written by Herbert Ahrens, Germany

Stories from FIG members

"FIG and Me" - FIG publication 75

FIG Honorary President Earl James, Australia has written his story on his "Twenty Five Years in the International Surveying Arena". This publication gives a unique insight in his work as surveyor and for the surveying profession with an international perspective.

My FIG Journey

FIG Honorary Member Dr. Arthur L Allan has written this FIG story in 2020 at the age of 90 on his experiences in FIG.

FIG Honorary President Juha Talvitie wrote his FIG story in 2006 in Finnish. The FIG part is in the pages 220-317. Some photos are included in the text: The book is available here

If you have a good story to tell, please send this to FIG office.

Presentations on FIG History

FIG Honorary President Juha Talvitie (President 1991-1994) has at several occasions given presentations on his term of office and the development and results:

FIG Honorary President Robert W. Foster (1999-2002):

FIG Meetings

Apart from a few years, each year FIG has convened a meeting which has included a General Assembly. The first meetings were Congresses. After the inaguration in 1878, the following Congresses were held 1910 in Brussels, Belgium, and in 1926 in Paris, France. From 1927 and onwards in the years between the congresses Permanent Commiittee Meeetings were held. This started in 1927 in Paris, France, 1928 in Brussels, Belgium, 1929 in Zurich Switzerland.

As FIG grew in numbers the Permanent Committee Meetings and Congresses were held in different places, uninterrupted, apart from the years 1939-45. Again in 1946 a Permanent Committee Meeting was held and has been held each year since then. 

In 1999 The Permanent Committee Meetings were renamed to FIG Working Week. "FIG Working Week" became a well-known term among surveyors meaning the week-long event including Council meeting, ACCO meeting (Advisory Committee to Council and is the meeting of commission and network chairs), General Assembly and a conference part which apart from technical sessions also include member Fora, task force meetings, roundtable sessions and discussions etc on FIG matters and the development of the profession; as well as the traditional Presidents meeting.

FIG continues to represent the entire surveying profession around the world as the leading international non-governmental organization on geospatial information and the management of “land”, the “sea” and the “built” environment. It is within the surveyors’ task to determine the size and shape of the earth, to map its surface and to manage it in a sustainable way.