I am hosting a conference and want to show a map of where the attendees have arrived from. I have an input file with the names of the cities. I'd like to put a dot on each city, and have the size of the dot be proportional to the number of attendees. So my input looks like this:

Chicago 10
Philadelphia 20
New York 5 
San Francisco 25

I'd like to do this with Python, which I believe means I should be using matplotlib and basemap. I've found sample code that has shapefiles for the US, but it's not clear to me how to get the lat/lon data US cities. Do I have to implement this all from scratch? It seems like a fairly common thing to do.

  • Any chance you can upload the shape file that you used? – ryan purcell Nov 29 '17 at 14:23
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review – aldo_tapia Nov 29 '17 at 14:40
  • Huh? @aldo_tapia, what do you mean? – vy32 Nov 30 '17 at 1:33
  • @vy32 comment above was generated from a review task. Ryan posted his comment as an answer and the review task moved it to here. – aldo_tapia Nov 30 '17 at 10:18
  • Well it is confusing. However, @ryan purcell will be happy to know that the shape file is part of mpl_toolkits.basemap – vy32 Nov 30 '17 at 23:33

I was able to use the API to put together the program I wanted. Here it is:

# Draw the locations of cities on a map of the US

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from mpl_toolkits.basemap import Basemap
from geopy.geocoders import Nominatim
import math

cities = [["Chicago",10],
          ["New York",5],
          ["San Francisco",25]]
scale = 5

map = Basemap(llcrnrlon=-119,llcrnrlat=22,urcrnrlon=-64,urcrnrlat=49,

# load the shapefile, use the name 'states'
map.readshapefile('st99_d00', name='states', drawbounds=True)

# Get the location of each city and plot it
geolocator = Nominatim()
for (city,count) in cities:
    loc = geolocator.geocode(city)
    x, y = map(loc.longitude, loc.latitude)

And here is the result: enter image description here

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  • 1
    Nice! Short, sweet, gets the job done nicely. – Chad Cooper Jun 15 '16 at 18:24
  • 1
    Thanks. I need to build up a library of these kinds of easy-to-do things. It's strange that they aren't in the standard examples. – vy32 Jun 15 '16 at 19:20
  • From where did you obtain the shapefile? – DataGirl Jul 30 '19 at 16:22

With Python, you could use the geopy module:

>>> from geopy.geocoders import Nominatim
>>> geolocator = Nominatim()
>>> loc = geolocator.geocode("New York, NY")
>>> loc
Location((40.7305991, -73.9865811, 0.0))

You could also use something like a batch geocoder, which for inputs such as:

Chicago, IL
Philadelphia, PA
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA

gives you:

"Chicago, IL",41.878114,-87.629798
"Philadelphia, PA",39.952584,-75.165222
"New York, NY",40.712784,-74.005941
"San Francisco, CA",37.77493,-122.419416

Either way, you get lat/lons to feed into matplotlib.

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