I'm working with GPS data in R from different studies and would like to list the countries that each study covers. I can easily map the data using leaflet but I'm not sure how to extract the countries.

Hope you can help

#' load in the data

mydata <- mydata %>%

#' map it

 m <- leaflet(mydata) %>%
  addTiles()  %>%
  # setView( lat=-27, lng=170 , zoom=4) %>%
  addProviderTiles("Esri.WorldImagery") %>%
    ~ long,
    ~ lat,
    fillOpacity = 0.7,
    color = ~ pal(species),
    radius = 3,
    stroke = FALSE
  ) %>%
    pal = pal,
    values = ~ species,
    title = "Species",
    opacity = 1

1 Answer 1


First you need a map of world polygons.

> library(rworldmap)
> m = getMap()

Then you need your points in a spatial format. I'll make some random points on the globe and create a SpatialPointsDataFrame using the sp package and making sure they have the same projection string as the map:

> set.seed(123); d = data.frame(long=runif(100,-180,180), lat=runif(100,-90,90))
> library(sp)
> coordinates(d) = ~long+lat
> proj4string(d) = proj4string(m)

Now I can extract any of the columns from the map data corresponding to each point with over:

> over(d,m)$NAME
  [1] Jamaica       <NA>          <NA>          <NA>          <NA>         
  [6] <NA>          <NA>          <NA>          Angola        <NA>         
 [11] <NA>          <NA>          Antarctica    <NA>          <NA>         

where <NA> are points in the ocean.

I can add the NAME to the source points:

> d$country = over(d,m)$NAME
> head(d)
             coordinates country
1  (-76.47209, 17.99801) Jamaica
2  (103.7898, -30.09176)    <NA>
3 (-32.76831, -2.049654)    <NA>
4   (137.8863, 81.80529)    <NA>
5  (158.5682, -3.077569)    <NA>
6  (-163.5997, 70.26304)    <NA>

The oceans are big.

Note that: exact world boundaries would be ridiculously complex detailed coastline and border lines. This data set is a simplification. If your points are near the coast they might get mapped to the oceans, or if near a border they might get mapped to the wrong country. Do not use for military planning purposes. Also this is a snapshot of the world at a particular time, countries change boundaries and sovereignties.

If you don't have zillions of these to do and can afford to wait for a web service to give you the answers, use geonames - you will have to get a free geonames user id from geonames.org and then loop over your data:

> library(geonames)
> options(geonamesUsername="myidhere")
> GNcountryCode(17.99801, -76.47209)
[1] "en-JM"

[1] "0"

[1] "JM"

[1] "Jamaica"
  • That's fantastic, just one more thing. If I run levels(over(d,m)$NAME) it gives me all of the countries in the world. Can I exclude those that have no overlap?
    – adkane
    Oct 1, 2019 at 16:24
  • I got it. I need to use droplevels. Thanks again
    – adkane
    Oct 1, 2019 at 16:28

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