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I am looking for a shapefile representing the coastlines of North America, such as something like this:

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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I'm glad you asked this, as I have been needing to research this for a project and you got me motivated! – Chad Cooper Aug 9 '11 at 15:56
At that point, you should pick one of the answers – Etiennebr Jun 14 '12 at 22:27

Cloudmade have the US coastline in Open Street Map in shapefile format - coastline included.

There is no quick way to extract Coastline from Open Street Map currently so you will have to download the entire data-set and extract what you want.

update 16th December 2015 (due to services discontinued) Coastline is available from:

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The page you were looking for doesn't exist. – Andrey Maraev Dec 16 '15 at 15:03
@AndreyMaraev updated post (the original post was August2011) cloud made discontinued the service, have updated with a new source that will be helpful – Mapperz Dec 16 '15 at 15:26

For the US - What about the NOAA Shoreline site? Specifically the Coastal Geospatial Data Project.

EDIT: NOAA National Geophysical Data Center GSHHS Dataset does cover the whole world. And here are some other sources at

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I was just looking (and it wasn't clear to me as I'm unfamiliar with the data); does this include Canada also? – djq Aug 9 '11 at 15:28
@celenius - see edits, and thanks for pointing that out. – Chad Cooper Aug 9 '11 at 15:39

The reference coastline data that OSM uses (at different scales) might be useful: # (50M) # (227MB) # (46MB)

The processed_p shapefile is the highest-detail coastline data for the entire world, but it's not divided by country. You might be able to take that data and extract just the data for North America.

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I look for something like that, highly detailed for North America – Andrey Maraev Aug 11 '11 at 9:07
Take the whole world from and clip it to the area of your needs using QGIS or any other GIS software. Please select one answer as accepted by clicking on the white icon to close the question. – AndreJ Feb 18 '14 at 9:33

You can use this:

TIGER = Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing TIGER products are spatial extracts from the Census Bureau's MAF/TIGER database, containing features such as roads, railroads, rivers, as well as legal and statistical geographic areas. The Census Bureau offers several file types and an online mapping application

Census Data

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