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 Parliament No. 21 of 1969