I'm looking for good free online sources of vector (shapefiles of cities, provinces, terrain etc) and raster data on China.

Are there any open repositories of this type of data?

  • For open data I think the Open Data Stack Exchange is the place to research/ask.
    – PolyGeo
    May 13, 2017 at 3:46

6 Answers 6


Open Street Map appears to have pretty comprehensive coverage of China's transportation and political boundaries. You can download a zip file of Chinese OSM shapefiles from GeoFabrik at:


  • 3
    OpenStreetMap is a great source for vector data, however beware that you need to share any derivative works according to their data licensing. I posted a related question on the subject.
    – Jaime Soto
    Dec 1, 2010 at 18:09
  • Note that the link points to a 404 now, as well as downloads.cloudmade.com. Does anyone know if Cloudmade is still making OSM data freely available still? If so, what is the link?
    – jvangeld
    May 7, 2014 at 18:05
  • CloudMade does not offer OSM data anymore. GeoFabrik offers an equivalent service breaking that data down by country and updating the files every day.
    – jvangeld
    Aug 7, 2017 at 22:31

Digital Chart of the World - DCW (China) http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~chgis/data/dcw/

Admin Boundaries (e00 format) http://sedac.ciesin.org/china/admin/bnd90/bnd90.html

Open Street Map #OSM n shapefile format

downloads.cloudmade.com/asia/china/china.shapefiles.zip (same as jvangled)

Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) http://data.geocomm.com/catalog/CH/group121.html

Admin BNDS https://research.cip.cgiar.org/gis/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownload&cid=11&min=20&orderby=titleA&show=10

Boundaries http://citas.csde.washington.edu/data/cntybnd/overview.htm

  • does any one still use e00 files? can anything still read them?
    – Ian Turton
    Dec 1, 2010 at 16:10
  • 1
    yes > Import from .e00 [ArcGIS 10] (Conversion) help.arcgis.com/en/arcgisdesktop/10.0/help/index.html#//…
    – Mapperz
    Dec 1, 2010 at 18:09
  • 1
    It looks like ogr2ogr allow's you to convert e00 files directly. Otherwise, if you don't have an ArcInfo license (required to import e00 files in ArcGIS), consider using the Import71.exe utility by ESRI. It is a standalone utility (no ESRI software needed) that was created for use back in the ArcView 3 days. Of course then you would need to convert to shapefile or other. Jan 12, 2011 at 16:31

Global Administrative Areas also has a nice multi-level dataset :



It is not shapefiles but if you can read Chinese, then Environment and Ecological Science Data Centre for West China http://westdc.westgis.ac.cn/ might be of help. Although it says West China but many datasets are countrywide. Has things like landcover, vegetation, locations of glaciers and so forth. The catalog is a bit messy though...


After trial, the best free resources are:

The best non-free ressource is :

  • www.fas.harvard.edu/~chgis/data/chgis/downloads/v4/

For rast data (elevation models, satellite imagery etc), check http://grass.osgeo.org/wiki/Global_datasets (China is large enough... and even high-res maps are listed there).