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Tips and Tricks for Downloading Countries Shapefile Data for Mapping and Analysis


How to Download Countries Shapefile




If you are interested in mapping and analyzing the geographic features of different countries, you might need to download countries shapefile data. A shapefile is a common vector data format that can store the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features. In this article, you will learn what a shapefile is, why you need it, how to find and download it, and how to import and use it in your GIS software.


What is a shapefile and why do you need it?




A shapefile is a simple, nontopological format for storing the geometric location and attribute information of geographic features. Geographic features in a shapefile can be represented by points, lines, or polygons (areas). Each item usually has attributes that describe it, such as name or temperature.




download countries shapefile



A shapefile is a vector data format for storing geographic features




Unlike raster data, which stores information as pixels or grids, vector data stores information as coordinates and shapes. Vector data can represent discrete features with precise boundaries, such as roads, buildings, rivers, and lakes. Vector data can also store attribute information for each feature, such as name, type, length, area, population, etc.


A shapefile can be used for various GIS applications and analysis




Shapefiles are widely used in GIS software because they are simple, flexible, and compatible with many platforms and applications. Shapefiles can be used for various purposes, such as:


  • Displaying geographic features on a map



  • Performing spatial analysis and queries



  • Creating thematic maps based on attribute values



  • Editing and modifying geographic features



  • Converting to other data formats



How to find and download countries shapefile data?




There are many sources of shapefile data online that offer free or paid access to various geographic datasets. Some of the most popular sources are:


There are many sources of shapefile data online




ArcGIS Online




ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based platform that provides access to a variety of geographic content and services. You can search for shapefiles by keywords or categories, such as country boundaries, administrative divisions, natural features, etc. You can also filter the results by format, date, source, license, etc. To download a shapefile from ArcGIS Online, you need to create an account and sign in. Then you can select the dataset you want and click on the Download button. You will get a .zip file that contains the shapefile components (.shp, .shx, .dbf, .prj).


IGISMAP




IGISMAP is a website that provides free GIS data downloads for various countries and regions. You can browse the data by continent or country name. You can also search for specific datasets by keywords or tags. To download a shapefile from IGISMAP, you just need to click on the Download button next to the dataset name. You will get a .zip file that contains the shapefile components (.shp, .shx, .dbf, .prj).


Download world countries shapefile with attribute fields


Download World Bank official boundaries shapefile


Download country borders shapefile for GIS analysis


Download continents shapefile with country codes


Download disputed areas shapefile with international boundaries


Download coastlines and lakes shapefile for mapping


Download ESRI GeoDatabase of world countries


Download GeoJSON file of country polygons


Download world countries shapefile from ArcGIS Online


Download world countries shapefile updated in 2021


Download world countries shapefile with land type and rank


Download world countries shapefile from Garmin International


Download world countries shapefile with ISO codes and names


Download world countries shapefile with continent and display fields


Download world countries shapefile for interactive maps


Download world countries shapefile with administrative boundaries


Download world countries shapefile from World Bank Data Catalog


Download world countries shapefile with guide for usage


Download world countries shapefile in different formats


Download world countries shapefile for data visualization


Download United States shapefile with state boundaries


Download Mexico shapefile with provinces and municipalities


Download Malaysia shapefile with districts and subdivisions


Download Germany shapefile with regions and cities


Download Kenya shapefile with counties and constituencies


Download Australia shapefile with states and territories


Download United Kingdom shapefile with countries and counties


Download South Africa shapefile with provinces and municipalities


Download Canada shapefile with provinces and territories


Download Brazil shapefile with states and regions


Download India shapefile with states and districts


Download New Zealand shapefile with regions and districts


Download Nigeria shapefile with states and local government areas


Download China shapefile with provinces and prefectures


Download France shapefile with regions and departments


Download Italy shapefile with regions and provinces


Download Spain shapefile with autonomous communities and provinces


Download Japan shapefile with prefectures and cities


Download Russia shapefile with federal subjects and districts


Download Indonesia shapefile with provinces and regencies


Download Egypt shapefile with governorates and cities


Download Turkey shapefile with provinces and districts


Download Argentina shapefile with provinces and departments


Download Colombia shapefile with departments and municipalities


Download Iran shapefile with provinces and counties


Download Saudi Arabia shapefile with regions and governorates


Download Pakistan shapefile with provinces and districts


World Bank




The World Bank is an international organization that provides financial and technical assistance to developing countries. The World Bank also publishes various geographic datasets related to its projects and programs. You can access the World Bank Data Catalog and search for shapefiles by keywords or topics. To download a shapefile from the World Bank Data Catalog, you need to click on the dataset name and then click on the Download button under the Resources section. You will get a .zip file that contains the shapefile components (.shp, .shx, .dbf, .prj).


How to import and use shapefile data in GIS software?




Once you have downloaded the shapefile data, you can import and use it in your GIS software of choice. There are many GIS software available, such as ArcGIS, QGIS, GRASS GIS, etc. Each software may have different methods and tools for importing and using shapefiles, but the general steps are similar:


Shapefile format and components




A shapefile is actually a collection of files with different extensions that work together to store the geographic features and attributes. The main components of a shapefile are:


Extension


Description


.shp


The file that stores the feature geometry (required)


.shx


The file that stores the index of the feature geometry (required)


.dbf


The file that stores the attribute information of the features (required)


.prj


The file that stores the coordinate system information (optional but recommended)


.sbn and .sbx


The files that store the spatial index of the features (optional)


.shp.xml


The file that stores the metadata of the shapefile (optional)


Shapefile import options and tools




To import a shapefile into your GIS software, you need to locate the .shp file and add it to your map or project. Depending on your software, you may have different options and tools for importing shapefiles, such as:


ArcGIS




In ArcGIS, you can use the Add Data button or drag and drop the .shp file from the Catalog window to the map. You can also use the Feature Class to Feature Class tool or the Copy Features tool to import a shapefile into a geodatabase.


QGIS




In QGIS, you can use the Add Vector Layer button or drag and drop the .shp file from the Browser panel to the map. You can also use the Import Vector Layer tool or the Save Vector Layer as tool to import a shapefile into a geopackage.


GRASS GIS




In GRASS GIS, you can use the Import vector data button or the v.in.ogr command to import a shapefile into a location and mapset. You can also use the v.import command to reproject and import a shapefile at the same time.


Conclusion and FAQs




In this article, you learned how to download countries shapefile data from various sources online. You also learned how to import and use shapefiles in your GIS software. Shapefiles are simple and versatile data formats that can help you display and analyze geographic features of different countries. Here are some FAQs that you might have:


FAQs




What are some advantages and disadvantages of shapefiles?




Some advantages of shapefiles are:


  • They are easy to create, edit, and share.



  • They are compatible with many GIS software and applications.



  • They can store various types of geographic features and attributes.



Some disadvantages of shapefiles are:


  • They have limitations on file size, name length, and attribute types.



  • They do not support topological relationships or rules.



They require multiple files to wor


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