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I have a bunch of localities worldwide for which I need to check their geographic coordinates. So far, I only count on information on the corresponding countries, localities' names, and "suggested" latitudes and longitudes in decimal degrees. I'm wondering if is there any 100% free tool (ideally an R package) that allows me to automatically check the degree of error of some coordinates. Ideally, I'm thinking about a system that (1) picks the information available, (2) checks it in some gazetteer or similar the localities around the provided coordinates (let's say, within a buffer of 20 km) and returns if there is a locality with a similar name within the buffer. Any idea?

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This sounds like "geonames". Go to http://geonames.org/ for the full details, then try the R package. You'll need a geonames username from the site.

Amongst other things it can find the country at a lat-long point:

> library(geonames)
> options(geonamesUsername="myusernamehere")
> GNcountryCode(lng=-2.5, lat=54)
$languages
[1] "en-GB,cy-GB,gd"

$distance
[1] "0"

$countryCode
[1] "GB"

$countryName
[1] "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"

or a set of nearby placenames:

> GNfindNearbyPlaceName(lng=-2.5, lat=54,radius=10)
  adminCode1      lng distance geonameId       toponymName countryId fcl
1        ENG  -2.4383  5.52712   2637675         Slaidburn   2635167   P
2        ENG -2.53333  5.97867   2646965 Higher Thrushgill   2635167   P
3        ENG -2.46667  5.97959   2641562            Newton   2635167   P
4        ENG -2.52059  9.15351   2634050         Whitewell   2635167   P
  population countryCode              name           fclName
1          0          GB         Slaidburn city, village,...
2          0          GB Higher Thrushgill city, village,...
3          0          GB            Newton city, village,...
4          0          GB         Whitewell city, village,...
  adminCodes1.ISO3166_2    countryName       fcodeName adminName1      lat
1                   ENG United Kingdom populated place    England 53.96618
2                   ENG United Kingdom populated place    England    54.05
3                   ENG United Kingdom populated place    England    53.95
4                   ENG United Kingdom populated place    England 53.91866
  fcode
1   PPL
2   PPL
3   PPL
4   PPL
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    Thanks @Spacedman, but, curiously, it seems not to work 100% correctly. For example, I ask for GNfindNearbyPlaceName(lng=-54.8, lat=-68.3,radius=50) which corresponds to Ushuaia, Argentina, and even if the coordinates are correct, the answer I got was data frame with 0 columns and 0 rows.
    – perep1972
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 23:34
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    @perep1972 you've got lat-lng the wrong way round. Try: GNfindNearbyPlaceName(lng=-68.3, lat=-54.8,radius=50) - Ushuaia is the first return.
    – Spacedman
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 0:02

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