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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 for Federal use. GNIS contains information about the official names for places, features, and areas in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories and outlying areas of the United States, including Antarctica. GNIS is the geographic names component of The National Map.  

GNIS contains records for approximately one million geographic names in the United States, including populated places, lakes, streams, summits, valleys, and ridges.  

Search GNIS using the Search Domestic Names query form. A feature search yields the official name, State and County, latitude and longitude, the name of the USGS topographic map(s) on which the feature can be found, BGN Decision Date (if relevant), known variant names, and in many cases, additional feature information, i.e., History and Description. There is also an interactive map with optional imagery and other layers. 

Learn More: Geographic Names FAQs