I am working with a shapefile that has many polygons.

How do I add one more field named "area_sqkm" and calculate area for each polygon in the shapefile?

  • 1
    What libraries do you have installed and what have you tried?
    – GISHuman
    Jun 29, 2016 at 15:57
  • 5
    – mdsumner
    Jun 29, 2016 at 17:21
  • 1
    Welcome to gis.stackexchange! Please note that a good question on this site is expected to show some degree of research on your part, i.e. what you have tried and - if applicable - code so far. For more info, you can check our faq.
    – underdark
    Jun 29, 2016 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


You can do

x <- shapefile('file.shp')
x$area_sqkm <- area(x) / 1000000

Or with terra

x <- vect('file.shp')
x$area_sqkm <- expanse(x) / 1000000

That works for both an angular CRS (longitude/latitude) and for planar CRSs. It is generally best to use a longitude/latitude CRS to compute area a planar CRS can distort size with a lot (How much? It depends on the CRS and on the location and extent of your spatial data).

  • 1
    is raster::area() with unprojected data more accurate than rgeos::gArea() with projected data? Apr 30, 2019 at 22:45
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    It can be. Because projections distort. If the inter-node distance of the polygon is high, projection can distort the area further (see the geosphere vignette). May 1, 2019 at 0:14
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    For other readers: This returns a numeric vector equal to the number of polygons (it looked to me as if it might be just for one polygon at a time)
    – geneorama
    Aug 27, 2021 at 21:23

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