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I am looking for a shapefile (or any format really) that has worldwide coverage of major urban areas / statistical areas as polygons with names.

Similar to what the US census Bureau' Core Based Statistical Areas but with worldwide coverage.

See https://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/cbf/cbf_msa.html

I need polygons, because I am trying to segment another layer of coordinates with it.

I know similar questions have been asked but it seems that most have the limitation of needing free data. I'm happy to pay for good data if its available.

  • Please provide links to the similar questions that have been asked so that we know what you have already considered. – PolyGeo Sep 11 '17 at 20:24
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There are numerous sites I can point you to, however this is the one I would suggest to download the data you want. The City as a Unit of Analysis and the Universe of Cities provided by http://www.atlasofurbanexpansion.org/

Their focus

We focus our monitoring efforts on cities of 100,000 people or more. Different countries have adopted different thresholds for a human settlement to be considered a ‘city’, but there is near universal agreement that a settlement of 100,000 people or more constitutes a city. We also focus our attention not on single municipalities but on entire metropolitan areas: contiguous urban areas that may contain many municipalities are considered to be a single city. We define cities by the extent of their built-up area, rather than by their administrative or its jurisdictional boundaries.

The extrema tectorum — the limit of the built-up area of the city, as it was referred to in Ancient Rome — defines the city, and the city thus defined is our unit of analysis. We have now identified 4,245 cities on our planet that were homes to 100,000 people or more in 2010. These 4,245 cities constitute our Universe of Cities with a total population amounted to 2.5 billion, or 70 percent of the world’s 2010 urban population of 3.6 billion.

Map - http://www.atlasofurbanexpansion.org/

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Data - http://www.atlasofurbanexpansion.org/data

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The university of Columbia have a very nice map and data server for this question. Among their multiple products, they have:

I think this is the best open option up to this moment.

  • this seems to be jmuch more complete than the universe of cities. universe of cities does not contain a lot of cities over 100k population even though it claims thusly – tscherg Aug 5 at 18:38

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