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I develop an Android app that uses Mapsforge to display OSM maps. I could use a pre-built map in the MapsForge file format but that makes my APK file to big and I only need a small part of my country anyway.

How can I only get a small rectangle part of the world of OSM and put it in a map file?

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A ready-to-go solution can be the web service of http://extract.bbbike.org/, there you can define a boundingbox on an online map and choose many different output formats for OSM based maps. They also have mapsforge format there.

Have not tried on my own so far, so I cannot give any information about size limit for downloads, like a whole continent or similar

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I assume that you require the .OSM format.

Start by downloading the Planet.osm file, and use the program Osmconvert.

The command osmconvert planet-160104.osm -b=-144,20,-50,90 -o=subset.osm will subset to a square AOI as specified.

See more info here and specifically for subsetting the dataset here.

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You could try DogSheep Customizable Maps app. It lets you download maps by cutting it with a bounding box. The app uses MapsForge, so you could grab the map.map file from the download/dog_sheep/map_name directory, where map_name is the name you gave to the map when you downloaded it.

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