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Looking at several map services, they all contain the names of basically every place where several humans live.

Cities and towns are quite easy to find, but they all contain townships/parishes/hamlets etc. as well. I cannot find any place to find this data or how to process it.

Is it actually handwork or is there something else going on?

closed as primarily opinion-based by JGH, BERA, whyzar, xunilk, Dan C Feb 23 '18 at 15:04

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  • Some governments (local, province/state, country) will publish such lists – JGH Feb 23 '18 at 12:19
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Many of such services rely on the Google Geocoding Gazetteer API.
Scraping such an API to get the data out is not likely to provide you with any good outcome.

As for how Google made it in the first place is a good question, and I'd expect it to be based on a lot of work done by some company that they bought back when work began on Google Maps.

  • I wondered about this because I got in contact of a person describing all towns, cities and settlements in the Netherlands and it took him about 7 years in total on his own. So for the big companies I assume there is some automatic process in there, but it could also be they just assigned 100 people to do everything within a year. – B.Quaink Feb 23 '18 at 11:25
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The US Gov also provide lots of geographical data for free including place name for the whole world at : http://geonames.nga.mil/gns/html/namefiles.html

I dont know if this is up to the level of detail you seek but that could be a good starting point (for exemple Netherlands data contain 22887 record).

I download and have a quick look to some place I know, the locations are not very accurate (could be off to 100 or 1000 meters sometime) but it seem to have most of city, town, hamlet and small populated place as well as a lot of non populated place like mountain, rivers, forest, name of point of interest and other geographical feature. I would say it is as complete as what google map display if not more complete (of course disregarding street name/adresses...) for the small area I checked.

So to answer your question most map service probably get their name data from US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency who give it freely for the whole world (Some other country have similar database, sometime in open data sometime to buy, but generally they covers only their national territories)

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