Sources for Geographic Data

Research & Instructional Design


NASA and the University of Maryland maintain the Global Land Cover Facility which collects satellite data on land cover for the entire world.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has produced the Atlas of Urban Expansion which provides downloadable maps and data related to the geographic and quantitative dimensions of urban expansion and its key attributes in cities the world over.

NASA and CIESEN/Columbia University maintain the World Data Center which "provides access to a wide range of global data, associated documentation, and visualization and analysis tools, and to the community of experts on global data."

IPUMS-International "is an effort to inventory, preserve, harmonize, and disseminate census microdata from around the world. The project has collected the world's largest archive of publicly available census samples."

Data-Planet is a dynamic repository of officially sourced statistical data, which has been standardized, harmonized and given metadata to make the data more findable.

You can download country boundaries from Global Administrative Areas in several different formats.

ESRI hosts Open Data, where people can easily find and download data in a variety of formats.

Some global climate and ecological data is available from DIVA-GIS.

NACIS and many volunteers support Natural Earth which is a "public domain map dataset ... featuring tightly integrated vector and raster data, with which you can make a variety of visually pleasing, well-crafted maps with GIS software."

The GeoSUR Portal provides an entry point to spatial data published by Latin American and Caribbean agencies.

A-to-Z Maps Online (accessed via Burke Library) includes a GIS Data tab with a number of sub-menus categorizing hundreds of GIS data sources.

The World Bank's Open Data Initiative includes an online data catalog with data in formats such as Excel.

The University of Michigan's China Data Center provides access to maps and data online, with data that can be downloaded for free.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project is the most comprehensive public collection of political violence and protest data for developing states (currently Africa and South Asia).

ESRI provides access to many types of data, for example, demographic data by country. Most of this would be available via ArcGIS Online.

United States

The Department of the Interior maintains a Geospatial One-Stop Portal for federal, state and local geographic data.

The Federal Geographic Data Committee coordinates the sharing of geographic data through an online portal that searches metadata held within the NSDI Clearinghouse network.

The Department of Agriculture GeoSpatial Data Gateway is an easy-to-use source for environmental and natural resources data, plus additional demographic layers.

ProtectedLands.net showcases examples and other information about the Protected Lands Database of the U.S., published by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program.

The Census Bureau maintains the American Factfinder website, from which one can download census data in GIS-readable format; see especially the datasets at TIGER Products.

For historical census data, visit the National Historical Geographic Information System, housed at the University of Minnesota.

For all topographical maps and data layers, visit the National Map, maintained by the USGS.

Hamilton's own Dave Tewksbury provided the extensive and carefully-vetted list of GIS sources for all states on the SERC-Carleton web site.  Thanks, Dave!

New York State

New York State data is maintained by the New York State GIS Clearinghouse.  

The NYS Office of Planning & Development has a new Geographic Information Gateway featuring not only data sets and maps but stories of how this data is being used, for example, in climate change and shorelines.

NYS Orthos allows you to download data via an interactive application. You can also download orthoimagery directly at NYS Statewide Digital Orthoimagery.

The Cornell University Geospatial Information Repository is also a clearinghouse for information about New York State.

The New York State Museum provides a nice collection of datasets for New York State.

There a some interesting layers at the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Atlas: Data Viewer .

Links to GIS Data Provided by Research Universities

The University of Oregon, by state, also electronic atlases

UNC GIS Data Finder, by themes (e.g., social, economic)

MIT GIS Services

Michigan State Libraries

Georgia State University GIS Research Guides

Stanford University Websites for Digital GIS Data

Duke University Data and GIS Services

GIS @ University of Chicago

University of Colorado

Cornell University Mann Library GIS Data Sources

UC Santa Barbara Globetrotter

GIS@Tufts, which includes Tufts University Geospatial Data Repository

Miscellaneous Sources

The American Association of Geographers has lists of databases, maps & atlases, historical gazetteers and GIS.

OpenGeoPortal.org is a "collaboratively developed, open source, federated web application to rapidly discover, preview, and retrieve geospatial data from multiple repositories."

The Geocommunity website bills itself as the "premier on-line resource for GIS and geospatial data."

Neat trick at Wikipedia: in the right-hand column, click the coordinates under the locator map to see a page of available data sources.

Econdata Data Collections includes a section of links to mapping resources.

The Thematic Mapping Engine allows you to create a file of UN data which can be viewed in Google Earth.


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Last updated: May 9, 2017

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