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I am looking for the base layers for whole U.S. - roads, hydrological lines etc with flexibilities of changing symbology and labels.

TIGER is a good source but it is at county level. I am running on a short deadline right now, so want a quick fix. Can anyone suggest good source where I can find one layer for whole country? Or merged TIGER Census shapefiles for the whole US?

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Do you specifically want merged TIGER data, or are you just looking for nationwide datasets from any source? –  RyanDalton Feb 21 '13 at 22:50
It's not as accurate or up to date as Tiger, but try nationalatlas.gov/atlasftp.html for nationwide datasets of roads, streams, etc. –  Dan C Feb 21 '13 at 22:53
Looking for nationwide accurate datasets. –  Deep Feb 22 '13 at 14:42
Please be more specific about what you are looking for. –  underdark Feb 22 '13 at 15:46
base layers (cities boundaries, roads, rails, waterbodies and hydrological lines) to display at the background of actual data (points), but with flexible symbology –  Deep Feb 22 '13 at 17:32

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

What about Esri's Data and Maps for ArcGIS? It is free for licensed ArcGIS users and has national data at many scales.

The data comes with pre-defined symbology for quick use, but the symbols can be changed.

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Nice for arcgis users, but not a great resource for the rest of us –  chrismarx Mar 22 '14 at 22:03

Have you looked at Natural Earth? The large scale data includes boundaries, populated places, urban areas, hydro, roads, rails, etc. http://www.naturalearthdata.com/downloads/

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I would try RITA, USDOT. They will even send a free DVD of data. https://1bts.rita.dot.gov/pdc/user/products/src/products.xml?p=33304

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If I am not wrong, RITA is providing only PDF and HTML map. I am looking for some ESRI supported format. –  Deep Feb 22 '13 at 18:19
Nope, they have the US water, states, roads, sundry in shapefile –  lewis Feb 22 '13 at 20:08

The US Census has several files of different resolutions of just the state boundaries, for free here -


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