I'm developing an application that calculates the distance between cities using their respective Longitude and Latitude values.

But the problem is where to get a comprehensive list of latitude and longitude values of these cities?


5 Answers 5


Don't forget about Geonames dataset:

The GeoNames geographical database covers all countries and contains over eight million placenames that are available for download free of charge.

  • 14
    download a "cities" file at download.geonames.org/export/dump
    – Mike T
    Mar 19, 2012 at 18:34
  • 1
    But can anyone tell how much accurate the USA city point data from geoname, i mean http://download.geonames.org/export/dump/
    – SIslam
    Sep 26, 2016 at 18:29
  • 3
    6 years later ... the free version has 7300 cities and the paid version has 3.9 million. simplemaps.com/data/world-cities
    – Synesso
    Apr 5, 2018 at 0:59
  • @Synesso not sure what you wanted to say with it, simplemaps don't seem related to Geonames and also in 2021 there are ~41000 cities in free database. Oct 22, 2021 at 9:29

Use OpenStreetMap, Internet access, the wget tool and a XPath Filter like XML::XPath. The request should be chunked in 2x2 degree BBoxes. Here an example for 12 degs west till 14 degs east and 52 degs south and 54 degs north. Berlin is inside .. with a lot of infos. For smaller units use place=town. The incoming format is XML.

  wget -O osm-city-12-52-14-54.xml  "http://open.mapquestapi.com/xapi/api/0.6/node[place=city][bbox=12,52,14,54]"

  wget -O osm-town-12-52-14-54.xml  "http://open.mapquestapi.com/xapi/api/0.6/node[place=town][bbox=12,52,14,54]"
<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<osm version="0.6" generator="Osmosis SNAPSHOT-r26564">
  <node id="21484051" version="7" timestamp="2010-07-13T20:11:08Z" uid="15720" user="J budissin" changeset="5211741" lat="52.2994511" lon="13.6244389">
    <tag k="openGeoDB:auto_update" v="population,is_in"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:loc_id" v="19549"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:is_in_loc_id" v="294"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:name" v="Königs Wusterhausen"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:is_in" v="Dahme-Spreewald,Brandenburg,Bundesrepublik Deutschland,Europe"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:layer" v="6"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:version" v=" / 2007-12-04 / http://fa-technik.adfc.de/code/opengeodb/dump/"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:telephone_area_code" v="03375"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:population" v="32785"/>
    <tag k="is_in" v="Dahme-Spreewald,Brandenburg,Bundesrepublik Deutschland,Europe"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:community_identification_number" v="12061260"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:license_plate_code" v="LDS"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:sort_name" v="KOENIGS WUSTERHAUSEN"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:type" v="Stadt"/>
    <tag k="openGeoDB:postal_codes" v="15711,15831"/>
    <tag k="name:hsb" v="Parsk (Königs Wusterhausen)"/>
    <tag k="name" v="Königs Wusterhausen"/>
    <tag k="opengeodb:lat" v="52.296999"/>
    <tag k="opengeodb:lon" v="13.6297229"/>
    <tag k="place" v="town"/>
    <tag k="population" v="33370"/>

A simple perl harvester script:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w 
# --------------------------------------------------------
# Simple OSM Harvester 
# --------------------------------------------------------
use strict;
use XML::XPath;
use XML::XPath::XMLParser;

# Use UFT 8
binmode(STDOUT, ":utf8");
# --------------------------------------------------------
# Parameter @todo put params into commandline arguments
# --------------------------------------------------------
    # while ($cmd = shift) {
    #  $level = shift if $cmd =~ /level/;
    #  $east  = shift if $cmd =~ /east/;
    #  ....
    # }
# --------------------------------------------------------
my $level="town";
my $east=14;
my $west=12;
my $north=54;
my $south=52;

# --------------------------------------------------------
# OS Call wget
# --------------------------------------------------------
my @call =`wget -O osm-town-$west-$south-$east-$north.xml "http://open.mapquestapi.com/xapi/api/0.6/node[place=$level][bbox=$west,$south,$east,$north]"`;    

# --------------------------------------------------------
# Parse the stuff
# --------------------------------------------------------
my $xp = XML::XPath->new(filename => "osm-town-$west-$south-$east-$north.xml");
my $nodes = $xp->find('/osm/node'); # find all paragraphs
for my $node ($nodes->get_nodelist) {
    # print $n, "\n";
    my $lat = $xp->find('./@lat', $node);
    my $lon = $xp->find('./@lon', $node);
    my $name = $xp->find('./tag[@k=\'name\']/@v', $node);
    my $pop  = $xp->find('./tag[@k=\'population\']/@v', $node);
    print "name=$name\tlogitude=$lon\tlatitude=$lat\tpopulation=$pop\n";

# --------------------------------------------------------
# --------------------------------------------------------

Generated output (sorry german LANG of wget)

Warnung: Joker-Zeichen werden bei HTTP nicht unterstützt.
--2014-02-04 01:13:23--  http://open.mapquestapi.com/xapi/api/0.6/node[place=town][bbox=12,52,14,54]
Auflösen des Hostnamen »open.mapquestapi.com (open.mapquestapi.com)«...
Verbindungsaufbau zu open.mapquestapi.com (open.mapquestapi.com)||:80... verbunden.
HTTP-Anforderung gesendet, warte auf Antwort... 200 OK
Länge: nicht spezifiziert [text/xml]
In »»osm-town-12-52-14-54.xml«« speichern.

    [   <=>                                                                                                                                                                                  ] 128.148      242K/s   in 0,5s    

2014-02-04 01:13:30 (242 KB/s) - »»osm-town-12-52-14-54.xml«« gespeichert [128148]

name=Königs Wusterhausen    logitude=13.6244389 latitude=52.2994511 population=q33370
name=Teterow    logitude=12.5753569 latitude=53.7709505 population=9647
name=Neukalen   logitude=12.7905515 latitude=53.822817  population=2304
name=Premnitz   logitude=12.3384178 latitude=52.5310487 population=9671
name=Havelberg  logitude=12.0733335 latitude=52.8234367 population=7400
name=Teltow logitude=13.2644532 latitude=52.4016457 population=19541

You could also extract the data from OpenStreetMap (using e.g. their API), or simply from Wikipedia. Most Wikipedia pages for cities have the city's coordinates.

Of course, this would require a bit of scripting, and possibly a list of the cities you want.


Here is another option for Global Cities: GRUMP version 1 now has a free layer of settlement points with attributes, such as population size.



You can try the one from geonames which is absolutely free..

There are also many paid databases on the internet like www.worldcitiesdatabase.com or geodatasource.com as well

You can also use open street data but you need to understand the tagging system to extract the data.

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