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GIS Data Sources: Global

Other Countries

Basemap Data and Broad Collections

  • Data by Country from DIVA-GIS contains common basemap layers. See DIVA-GIS's main data page for more international layers.
    Global Administrative Areas is a related site with several levels of admin. divisions, in several formats
  • Global GIS DVD: Compiled by the USGS and the American Geological Institute; contains USGS and other public domain data, including global coverages at a nominal scale of 1:1 million in the following categories: Economic Structures, Environment, Gazeteers, Imagery, Land, Political, Rasters, Reference, Transportation, and Utilities.  Several formats, mostly shapefiles or rasters.
  • VMAP Level 0 (formerly known as Digital Chart of the World)
    From the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), providing about the level of detail found on 1:1,000,000 charts. Worldwide layers are divided into 4 parts as below. The files are tarred and gzipped. These are in Vector Product Format (VPF); ArcGIS has an Import from VPF tool in its Coverage Toolbox.
    • The "GIS-Lab" site has VMAP0 files in shapefile format, as well as VMAP1 files (based on 1:250,000 charts) for some areas.
    • Vmap is the source of many free layers at sites such as DIVA-GIS.
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Country Files Tab-delimited text files of named features on U.S. military maps (approximately the features you'd find on a 1:250,000 scale map or chart).  Includes decimal latitude and longitude coordinates sometimes up to 6 places past the decimal. The file format page includes variable definitions.
  • Natural Earth Public domain dataset, worldwide coverage at resolutations appropriate for 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales.

Topical Geospatial Data


  • LandScan Population raster layers at 1 km resolution, for 2000 through to last year. Online viewer, or can access from GIS software as WMS images or WCS raster layers. Duke users only.  NOTE for ArcGIS 10.2.x users: When adding a WCS or WMS connection from Add Data...GIS Servers, to gain access you must enter a single space in both the username and password and check the “save password” box in the Add Data dialog.

Climate, Environment, Human Impact

Geology and Soils

  • World Geologic Maps Mostly small-scale GIS data from the USGS, many deriving from their Open File Report series.
  • ISRIC - World Soil Information Soil data from the International Soil Reference and Information Centre.
  • Soil Geographic Databases  Maintained by David G. Rossiter, who "attempts to catalogue all freely-downloadable primary soils information usable in a GIS either as "point" observations, polygon maps, or gridded maps ("rasters")."

Marine Data