Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
A GIS is a computer system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information; that is, data identified according to location.
A feature is something shown on a map, and it has characteristics or properties, which can be represented in feature-based Digital Line Graph (DLG) data using attributes and values.
Information on the GNIS is available at the United States Board on Geographis Names website.
Vector data for small scales are from The National Map Small-Scale Collection (formerly National Atlas), while medium to large scales are comprised of all of The National Map themes, t
Geographic Names contain the same names data that USGS has been publishing on its maps for years, and the metadata was updated in 2013. The GNIS query form is available at the GNIS web site.
You can order the good old-fashioned paper versions of the state by state indexes of USGS topographic maps online from
I need to know the official names and definitions (extents) of regions. For example, what is "the Midwest," "the South," etc.?
No official designations exist for regions at any level of government. The U.S.
The term "historical" as used in the GNIS means specifically and only that the feature no longer exists on the landscape. It has no reference to age, size, condition, extent of habitation, type of use, or any other factor.
The official form of the name might not correspond exactly to the words entered. However, the software is very flexible. Here are some guidelines.
Why are there no entries for caves or military installations in the Geographic Names Information System Database?
Entries for these categories are in the database, but are not available at the public Web site.