Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a shapefile that is covering a huge area, with lots of polygons. The area I'm insteresting in is small and limited. Is there any way to only import (using "add vector layer") the polygons from the shapefile that covers my smaller area?

How can I do this in QGIS? How do I specify the smaller area for my import?

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

As far as I know, this is not possible using the GUI since the underlying OGR library doesn't support spatial queries (Source: Spatial joins in OGR SQL).

You could write a Python solution for this problem. It could check the feature bounding box against your area of interest and only add the feature to the QGIS layers if the areas overlap.

share|improve this answer
  • Supposing you intend to have a subset of your data. vs loading a 'select by location'.

Using QGIS 1.7.0 and with the ftools plugin installed [Carson Farmers Repository - under the plugin Installer]

  1. Load your main file (with the many polygons - from which you intend to select a few)
  2. Load clipper polygon shapefile (or create one i.e. covering your target small area)
  3. Intersect 1 and 2. Tool accessible from the Vector menu in QGIS.
  4. Voila! Your few polygons.
share|improve this answer
  1. Import the larger shapefile.
  2. Either you have your area of interest in a shapefile, or you can easily make a new layer (shapefile) in QGIS.
  3. Intersect and you are done.

I hope this helped.

Cheers N

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.