What are the state border outlines called which treat every state as a single entity, including surrounding waters?

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I need to create a latitude/longitude pairing of each state's "borders", which I need to build a custom-formatted file for a GPS vendor so they can tell what state the GPS unit is in, but islands and such are messing with my data. Problem is I don't know the name to even ask Google for...

  • In what way are islands messing with your data? Are you trying to obtain these state borders from somewhere? I'm unsure what you are asking. If you're just wanting to know what they're called I'd go with "State Border" or "State Boundary". In fact the answer by mgri below quotes Google Maps Help "State and province borders..." If you are wanting data that surrounds each state, I'd look for "State Border Polygons" – Midavalo May 13 '17 at 20:01

I think they represent some borders.

From Google Maps Help:

State and province borders, like the boundary of New Jersey or Alberta, are shown as thin, light-gray dotted lines inside a country.

It seems what you are looking for because, if I zoom on the map you provided, I see:

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  • Yeah, I know what they are FOR, but I don't know what to call them such that I can FIND a definition file for them. My goal is to find a bunch of polygons of them, but lacking the names my Google searches turn up nothing.... – Bing May 13 '17 at 18:30

International law provides for a 12-mile territorial sovereignty extension on oceans, seas, and lakes. Since Long Island Sound is less than 24 miles across, the entire body is US territory, and the states have agreed to a water boundary between them. Those dashed lines represent the interstate boundary (both NY-CT and NY-NJ). The US-international border is not shown, which is why those lines dangle in the open ocean at the US territorial limit. A "first order administrative" (FOA) boundary dataset should include those lines.


I am not a native speaker in the english language, but what about "state boundaries" as the term for these borders?

Regarding the second part of your question, this OSM Boundaries Map might help you to get the existing boundaries from the OSM dataset.

With regard to your requirement to only have one polygon per state:

There is the concept of exclaves and enclaves, which is not that uncommon all over the world. Please see the wikipedia page for a good explanation. Since using a bounding box of the state is also not an option in your use case, I honestly don't see how you can handle that issue (in a good, professional way) without having multiple polygons per state. Maybe you can name them differently, something like e.g. Kentucky1, Kentucky2, etc., where in the end the additional number can be ignored?

On the other hand, I somehow hope, that the mentioned GPS vendor is already aware of the enclave/exclave problem, otherwise I would probably talk to them again and discuss together a possible solution.

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    There is the concept of exclaves and enclaves, which is not that uncommon all over the world. Please see the wikipedia page for a good explanation en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclave_and_exclave So besides using a bounding box of a state, I don't see how you can handle that issue, if you want the correct boundaries of every state. What is the reason, that you want to have exactly one polygon for every state? – tallistroan May 13 '17 at 19:54
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    @Bing Please edit your question to include all relevant information – Midavalo May 13 '17 at 20:25
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    @Bing your comment above mentions custom-formatter files for GPS vendors - your question does not. All information should be included in the question, not as comments. – Midavalo May 13 '17 at 20:28
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    @Bing it is relevant to the potential answerers who are trying to understand what you are asking. It paints a picture of your requirements which may help them give you a better answer. – Midavalo May 13 '17 at 20:32
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    @Bing I'm not sure how it'd change what you're asking. You're still asking the same question, I'm just asking you to give more background to your question in order to get you an answer. You have given some background here in a comment, I'm saying this background should be in the question. – Midavalo May 13 '17 at 20:42

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