I am using PostGIS 2.0.

I have a data set of national boundaries for the African continent. These are in a multipolygon table in postgis. Each country has multiple entries (rows) such that some of the countries in my table have 20 or 30 rows with individual geometries. I want to combine them multiple rows for each country into a single polygon (if possible).

The main reason I want to do this is because I'm creating a map in QGIS with this as my base layer and want to label the countries. At the moment however I get 20 to 30 labels per country - I just want one!

I have tried ST_Union which I thought would combine all of my individual geometries into one (per Country) But it only produced geometries for the countries where there was only one geom to begin with:( This is my query:

  GROUP BY name
  ORDER BY name;

Can anyone help?

2 Answers 2


The Postgis docu suggest to wrap a ST_Multi around it to get a multi-geometry:

SELECT stusps,
       ST_Multi(ST_Union(f.the_geom)) as singlegeom
     FROM sometable As f
GROUP BY stusps
  • thanks for the comment. ST_Multi produces the same result i.e. the new singlegeom column is mostly empty apart from where a country only had one geometry to begin with...
    – marty_c
    Jan 27, 2014 at 15:00

I looks like you are on the right track. I can't tell why it is not working but I have some modest suggestions to help you debug this. (Incidentally, if possible, try and load your data using lower case names - I think it makes the SQL more readable).

First, make sure that this command returns what you expect:

  public."africa_ALL" as a
 name = "Mali";

If the data is structured as you describe, it should return something like this:

name | geom
Mali | a23123h12312
Mali | asd2234234

If it does not return this for a country with multiple geometries, then something else is wrong.

Then, @AndreJoost's reply (just reorganizing it a tiny bit) should work:

 ST_Multi(ST_Union(a.geom)) as country_geom
 public."africa_ALL" as a

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