I'm trying to build a simple web application to display service coverage information worldwide. I have been using Datamaps/D3 to build the application. I downloaded the Natural Earth shapefiles for countries and for states/provinces. I am using GDAL and Topojson tools to get JSON data for the app.

The problem is that I would like to get a global map of countries with state/province (aka administrative) borders for the USA ONLY.

I have been trolling around the web for a few hours with no luck. I have downloaded QGIS and working through learning how to do this. But, I figured I would post something here as well.

2 Answers 2


If you're already pulling Natural Earth data, and you're using QGIS, you can do a bit of data processing using the GUI tools in QGIS.

For the Country boundaries, you need to select the USA feature and export it to your desired feature, which I think you want GeoJSON?

The USA Country boundary is in the ne_110m_admin_0_countries layer

If you do an identify of that feature in QGIS, you can see the corresponding attribute value for that feature and the name of the column:

enter image description here

Now using the 'Select feature by expression' tool, build an expression to select that one feature:

enter image description here

click the 'select' button

Then :

  • right-click the ne_110m_admin_0_countries layer choose 'SAVE AS'
  • in the 'Save vector layer as' dialogue box, choose the format you want to save as (GeoJSON), keep the CRS as EPSG:4326, and ensure the 'Save only selected features' box is checked.
  • Click OK and you've got a USA Country Boundary

Do the same thing for the States you're after, and you should be good to go...

  • Thanks! This got me the map I need. I exported the merged map from QGIS at GeoJSON. I converted to Topojson and pull it up in my web app. The state borders are present, but when I roll over the popup says "undefined." I see that the country data and administrative area data have different models. I read a little bit about dissolving the data. I'm lost on how to configure properly.
    – spdaly
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 12:36
  • Oh - which layers did you use the Dissolve tool on? In that tool there is a Dissolve Field option, which should be set to the 'Name' of the feature, which you'll then use in the popup... Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 13:21

You can find current US Administrative boundaries here, if you do not want to bother with pre-processing the data out of a global dataset. TIGER/Line® Shapefiles are issued by US census bureau. But I'm not sure whether they are official or not. I don't know which agency issues the official boundary data may be there is a 'survey and ordnance authority' or something similar.

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