I am hoping that there is a single source for this data, ie. 1 geodatabase. If not, can someone point me towards the sources that would make up the entire world's road transportation network?

I have come across references to the ESRI Digital Chart of the World, but I can't find any place to download it.


  • That comes in a CD when you order their products. I'm sure you could go to your nearest GIS Center at your local Higher ED institution and ask to use the CD.
    – CaptDragon
    Jan 31, 2012 at 18:18
  • See this SE question, it might help. Jan 31, 2012 at 18:19
  • @CaptDragon Never thought to ask my Uni about it. I did get my ArcInfo license through them. Thanks. Jan 31, 2012 at 18:23
  • @ChadCooper Importing OSM planet file would require computing power that I don't have access too. AFAIK when you parse OSM data, it writes the information to your memory. Then it updates your PostGIS database (or w.e you're using). Jan 31, 2012 at 18:25
  • i think i might have a file for this, how do i send/ upload it to you? -N
    – Noriko
    Jan 31, 2012 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


Digital Chart of the World is quite old now:

The correct location is 'http://ortelius.maproom.psu.edu/dcw/' (but unavailable currently)

Other locations are available but not in e00 or shapefile http://statisk.umb.no/ikf/gis/dcw/#DCW

But you might be better getting the Open Street Map data for Roads. But will be large amounts of data for the world.

"This is almost 20 GB compressed or 150 GB uncompressed XML."


For Shapefiles you best bet is http://download.geofabrik.de/osm/

  • 1
    I've used OSM. Very familiar with it. However, parsing the entire planet.osm is not feasible. Jan 31, 2012 at 18:30
  • @MichaelMarkieta Why is it unfeasible?
    – dassouki
    Jan 31, 2012 at 18:32
  • @dassouki Computing/Memory constraint. How do I get around this? AFAIK, you would run out of RAM before you could parse the entire dataset and write it to your PostGIS(or other) database. Jan 31, 2012 at 18:35
  • 1
    Michael from your blog you use FME? use the OSM API and the Http fetcher to extract the roads - this will reduce the amount of data. redgeographics.com/en/about-us/red-blog/…
    – Mapperz
    Jan 31, 2012 at 18:41
  • @Mapperz, Thank you very much! First time I've seen this. Jan 31, 2012 at 19:47

Another place to find extracted OpenStreetMap data that could be useful: http://downloads.cloudmade.com/

Seems similar to the "geofabrik" site although it has some shapefiles created from the data. I've worked with about 2/3 of the US at once merged into one shapefile... but this was very large and hard to work with. I wonder if loading a shapefile of data for the entire world would even be feasible on most machines?


You also might look at the road data in the National Imagery and Mapping Agency's Vector Map Level 0. There's several links and descriptions of the data on this page:


But if you just want to jump to the data, check out:


The road data is out of date and pretty low res, but it is global and isn't too much to parse, like the OSM data.

Data exists at higher resolutions but is more patchy in several locals. For higher res, checkout VMAP1: http://www.mapability.com/index1.html?http&&&www.mapability.com/info/vmap1_intro.html

Wikipedia has a good explanation of these map resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_map

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