I'm pretty sure that a lot of people might have faced the situation where they search the internet for geographical basemaps on a global scale but can't hardly find the needed data in a short time and with sufficient quality and/or documentation.

I think especially for beginners it is hard to know where to download good data because their are just too many websites and data-sources out there of which some are for free and others are not, some are of good quality and others not...and often all of them lack proper documentation.

So my question is: Is there any specific website that bundles information on where to find good basemaps (such as administrational boundaries, cities, physical maps, relief maps, waterbodies, vegetation, soil and others) on a global scale that also include proper documentation and reliable data-quality?

For me a good starting point is Worldgrids.org. check out here:


people interestet in soils should consider:


some layers from the FAO:


(If you go to the portal make sure to do the advanced search and click on downloadable data as a filter option)

  • I think your second question "If not can you guys share some good sites from your personal experience?" makes this Question too broad because we all know many such sites. I recommend you edit that out to leave it focussed on finding candidates for the one all encompassing global geoportal that you seek. – PolyGeo Feb 9 '14 at 22:46
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    @PolyGeo: I edited it out and tried to make it more specific. Thanks for your comment. – Joschi Feb 10 '14 at 10:05

I found the site below (credit to Robin Wilson @robintw) to be very interesting. There is a description of all datasets listed and it is organized by themes.


Furthermore, it has been updated several times and it is as complete as I can tell.

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  • very useful site with good overview! Thanks for indicating! – Joschi Feb 10 '14 at 10:48

http://www.naturalearthdata.com/ has boundaries and stuff but it is all on a pretty low resolution.

http://www.weogeo.com/ has several free datasets including openstreet map, as well some for pay.

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http://www.openstreetmap.org/ has free data from the whole world.

It takes some time to know how to get what you want. Geofabrik offers free downloads of regional extracts.

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