How can I acquire or download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data?

Download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data using the U.S. Board on Geographic Names website. Query the database for official geographic feature names, their location attributes, variant names, and other data. Display, print, and download up to 2,000 records from a query.

GNIS data can also be downloaded via the National Map Viewer. Define an area of interest on the map, then put a checkmark next to the “Names” category on the left.  Click “Find Products” to get a list of downloadable products.  

GNIS Map Services are also available. This provides direct access to the Names layers and includes display and download capabilities.

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What location coordinates (datum) does the Geographic Names Information System use?

All coordinates in the Geographic Names Information System database are in the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83). They were converted from the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD 27) in September 2005.

Why are there no entries for caves in the Geographic Names Information System Database?

Geographic Names Informations System (GNIS) entries for caves are in the database but cannot be retrieved on the public website. In response to the 1988 National Cave Management Resources Act, Department of the Interior Regulation 43 ( CFR Subtitle A, Part 37 ) forbids the release of information regarding the location of all caves on Federal lands...

How accurate is the elevation data in the Geographic Names Information System Database? How was it measured?

The elevation figures in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) are not official and do not represent precisely measured or surveyed values. Only the geographic name and locative attributes are official. Elevations are derived from data in The National Map . The data are interpolated from seamless raster elevation models for the given...

Does the Geographic Names Information System Database contain entries for obsolete names and historical geographic features that no longer exist?

Yes, The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) actively seeks names of features that no longer exist. The term "historical" as used in the GNIS specifically means that the feature no longer exists on the landscape. An abandoned ghost town, for example, still exists so it is not historical. Historical features have no reference to age, size,...

How do I report an error in the Geographic Names Information System Database?

Please report possible errors to the Geographic Names Information System Manager at BGNEXEC@usgs.gov . The Names data experts will investigate and validate the data, enter appropriate corrections where needed, and advise you of the results. Learn more: U.S. Board on Geographic Names: Principles, Policies, and Procedures

How often is the Geographic Names Information System database updated?

Federal, state, local, and non-governmental data partners continuously submit new features and edit existing features in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database . Changes--potentially consisting of hundreds to thousands of records per month--are validated by the staff and made available on the GNIS website and in the Web services...

What is the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)?

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) was developed by the U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN), which maintains cooperative working relationships with state names authorities to standardize geographic names. GNIS contains information about the official names for places, features, and...
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Date published: August 27, 2019

New names at Newberry drawn from CalVO geologist's mapping

In June 2019, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved twenty-five new formal geographic names at Newberry Volcano in central Oregon. The names were proposed by Julie Donnelly-Nolan, a Research Geologist with the Volcano Science Center of the USGS in Menlo Park, CA.

Date published: July 4, 2017

Mapping Yorktown

If urban legend is correct, the world turned upside down on October 19, 1781. The Patriots defeated the British at the Siege of Yorktown, paving the way for American Independence and starting an enduring trend for town names.

Date published: August 12, 2016

Highest Point East of Rockies Gets New Name

Black Elk Peak replaces Harney Peak in federal records

Date published: September 1, 2015

Old Name Officially Returns to Nation's Highest Peak

The story of America is told by the names on the land. When you hear names like Kentucky and Kennesaw, Klamath and Kodiak, your mind immediately starts to turn over all manner of associated thoughts of what you may have experienced or learned or even what you may imagine about that place.

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GIS data layers visualization
August 24, 2016

GIS data layers visualization

Temporal and spatial inputs are necessary to conduct the proposed modeling.Potential model covariates could include land cover, temperature, precipitation, etc. Image Credit Ontario County, NY