Although land cover mapping is one of the earliest applications of remote sensing technology, routine mapping over large areas has only relatively recently come under consideration. This change has resulted from new information requirements as well as from new developments in remote sensing science and technology. In the near future, new data types will become available that will enable marked progress to be made in land cover mapping over large areas at a range of spatial resolutions. This paper is concerned with mapping strategies based on 'coarse' and 'fine' resolution satellite data as well as their combinations. The status of land cover mapping is discussed in relation to requirements, data sources and analysis methodologies - including pixel or scene compositing, radiometric corrections, classification and accuracy assessment. The overview sets the stage for identifying research priorities in data pre-processing and classification in relation to forthcoming improvements in data sources as well as new requirements for land cover information.