The US government publishes a plethora of useful, high-quality GIS data sources online.

The data includes:

  • Municipal and international boundaries
  • Classified points of interest
  • Geographic maps
  • Climate charts
  • Air transportation maps
  • ...and so much more, in the US and outside it.

Unfortunately, the data is located in dozens of different web sites, each belonging to a separate agency. This community wiki aims to list all the known official US data sources available on the web.

Answers should probably include:

  • Site name & link
  • Agency name and description
  • Coverage (US \ International)
  • Short description of available data
  • Update date (if applicable\relevant)
  • Comments about quality or experience with the data
  • One data source per answer

8 Answers 8


The National Map

This is sponsored by the USGS.

  • Topographic Map Products
  • Transportation
  • Hydrography
  • Land Cover

enter image description here

Tiger - the US Census Bureau GIS data. Covers the US only.

  • Municipal and state boundaries
  • Cartographic maps
  • Street maps

From my personal experience, the data is comprehensive, accurate and well-formed.

Last update - 2011.


National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)

The National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides data, products and services relating to several disciplines of geophysical science:

  • Bathymetry & Global Relief
  • Earth Observations from Space
  • Geomagnetic Data & Models
  • Marine Geology & Geophysics
  • Natural Hazards
  • Space Weather & Solar Events

enter image description here

The National GAP Analysis Program ecological data from USGS:

  • National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD)
    • Ecological Systems based on NatureServe classifications
  • Protected Areas Dataset (Federal, State, Local, NGO, Tribal lands) Highly Recommended
  • Species geographic range
  • Species distribution models (ongoing)

enter image description here

USGS Earth Explorer

Products available for download include:

  • Aerial Photography
  • Cal/Val Reference Sites
  • Commercial
  • Declassified Data
  • Digital Elevation
  • DLGs
  • EO-1
  • Forest Carbon Sites
  • Global Fiducials
  • Global Land Surveys
  • HCMM
  • JECAM Sites
  • Land Cover
  • Landsat Archive
  • Landsat Legacy
  • Landsat MRLC
  • NASA LPDAAC Collections
  • Orbview-3
  • Radar
  • Vegetation Monitoring

enter image description here

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency offers an impressive POI list called "Complete Files of Geographic Names for Geopolitical Areas", which seems to comprehensively cover every spot of the world.

I had a brief, but good, experience with the POI list of Isreal.

The data is updated as to 18 July 2002.


enter image description here

A plug for my own agency! USFWS provides National datasets (including WMS in many cases) for the following:

  • Critical Habitat (as mandated by the Endangered Species Act)
  • National Wetlands Inventory
  • Project locations and Focus areas for Partners for Fish and Wildlife & Coastal Programs (ECOS)
  • Cadastral data (and refuge road system) for the National Wildlife Refuge System
  • Coastal Barrier Resources Systems (determines Fed funding / flood insurance)
  • Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (Large scale eco-units for conservation developed by FWS & USGS)
  • Migratory Bird Conservation dataset


Data.gov, the US government's open data warehouse, whose self-described purpose is to "increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government" is celebrating its 3rd year of service.

The main area of the website contains some spatially-enabled data as well as links to external datasets, some of which are shapefiles or links to other websites.

There is also a Geodata Catalog which houses spatial data exclusively.

Types of data available are various and range from records of visitors to the White House to realtime earthquake data, TIGER data, elevation data, and more (like, a LOT more, 440,000+ datasets).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.