I'm trying to figure out how Natural Earth Data has selected the countries listed in its 1:110m Admin-0 Countries dataset. Indeed there is only 177 countries in this dataset.

Is it Population size ? Territory size ? Something else ?

  • The data is updated by the Update Committee in Natural Earth. The data is mostly uploading by student from universitiesand once it approved by project manager he update the maps. Commented May 21, 2017 at 10:33
  • 1
    naturalearthdata.com/downloads/110m-cultural-vectors/… says 247. How are you getting the 177?
    – BradHards
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 11:29
  • This is a question that I think would be better asked at the Open Data Stack Exchange.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 11:31
  • @BradHards I've seen that but it's not accurate, the file for 1:110 Admin 0 -Countries (no boundary lakes) references 177 countries. More formally, I import the Shapefile into a geopandas DataFrame who's shape is (177, 64). Doing the same with the 1:10 dataset yields a dataframe of shape (255, 66).
    – sereizam
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


I see 177 features too in the 110m scale but 256 at the 10m scale.

I think selection is done based on scale. The level of detail you need depends on

  • how large you want to print (e.g. on A4 or a postcard)
  • the scale (e.g. zoomed into a continent or region, or showing the full earth)

The 110m dataset is much lower 'resolution' so some smaller shapes have disappeared as a result. To quote the NaturalEarth website, 110m is

Suitable for schematic maps of the world on a postcard or as a small locator globe

This dataset (110m) seems to leave out a lot of smaller nations, if you look at the map closely you'll see what gets left out at this scale:-

  • small island nations and territories (e.g. Polynesia and the Caribbean)
  • small nations in Europe (Vatican City, Andorra and Liechtenstein and San Marino)
  • small enclaves (Gibraltar, Cueta)

Look at the Caribbean for example. The yellow islands appear in the 10m map but not the 110m map.

enter image description here

If you need to include the smaller areas, use the 50m or 10m datasets. If you want borders in all their messy detail, openstreetmap or gadm may be more suitable.

As for the geopolitics of 'what is a country', well that depends on what country you're from :) This link mentions the process, sources used and general approach.

A row in the table doesn't mean it's a country (it could be a territory or dependency), and being in a country doesn't guarantee it gets its own row.

The 'disputed' datasets can be used to tailor the map to local requirements (and in some cases to follow local laws)

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