I'm trying without success to find a solution for problem in ArcGIS and this is the reason that I'm sending this message.

I have one polygon shapefile with postal codes for South Africa (no Gap, no overlap). There are some small polygons that seem to be box codes inside big polygons (Street code) and I would like to identify or select them. The problem: I don’t have any attribute in the table to make a classification (Box code vs street code).

I'm looking for a tool or a method in ArcGIS to identify polygons inside polygons using just one shapefile.


1 Answer 1


I suggest a two step process:

  1. Run Polygon Neighbors, which will generate a table that lists all the neighboring polygons for each polygon. Any small (box code) polygon that is completely surrounded by another (street code) polygon should show up only once in the results.

  2. Summarize the field listing the source polygons, using COUNT as the summary statistic of interest. In the resulting table, all polygons with a COUNT equal to 1 will have only one neighbor.

There could potentially be false positives with this method -- specifically, postcodes along the country border which only meet up with one other postcode.

  • Hello Erica, Thanks so much for your answer. Using your idea I could find what I was looking for. Otherwise I’ve to add two more steps to improve the results and maybe it can be useful for this kind of situation. 1 – I had to do two summarise with the first output: one with SRC and other with NBR column 2 – Import these two new summarizes outputs in just one table 3 – Launch frequency (Analysis) tool With this output I could join this table with my shapefile and find some box code characteristics based on count = 1 and the polygon area. Thank you again and have a nice day
    – Nativo
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 10:42

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