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Mapping, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data

The USGS provides the mapping and digital geospatial foundation for the Nation.

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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

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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

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How can I name an unnamed natural feature?

Proposals to name an unnamed natural feature can be submitted to the Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The BGN is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government, and promulgates policies governing issues such as commemorative naming, derogatory names, and names in wilderness areas. Please note that no natural feature (and certain manmade features) can be...

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How can I name an unnamed natural feature?

Proposals to name an unnamed natural feature can be submitted to the Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The BGN is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government, and promulgates policies governing issues such as commemorative naming, derogatory names, and names in wilderness areas. Please note that no natural feature (and certain manmade features) can be...

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What is the difference between "mountain", "hill", and "peak"; "lake" and "pond"; or "river" and "creek?"

There are no official definitions for generic terms as applied to geographic features. Any existing definitions derive from the needs and applications of organizations using those geographic features. The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database utilizes 63 broad categories of feature types defined solely to facilitate retrieval of entries with similar characteristics from the database...

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What is the difference between "mountain", "hill", and "peak"; "lake" and "pond"; or "river" and "creek?"

There are no official definitions for generic terms as applied to geographic features. Any existing definitions derive from the needs and applications of organizations using those geographic features. The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database utilizes 63 broad categories of feature types defined solely to facilitate retrieval of entries with similar characteristics from the database...

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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 Downloader. Define an area of interest on the map, then put a...

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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 Downloader. Define an area of interest on the map, then put a...

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What are the official definitions of regions in the United States. For example, what is "the Midwest," "the South," or the “East Coast”?

No level of government has official designations for regions. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which is responsible by law for standardizing geographic name usage throughout the Federal government, is often asked for official names and boundaries of regions, but does not and cannot provide them.Regions are application-driven and highly susceptible to perception. Individuals might agree on the...

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What are the official definitions of regions in the United States. For example, what is "the Midwest," "the South," or the “East Coast”?

No level of government has official designations for regions. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which is responsible by law for standardizing geographic name usage throughout the Federal government, is often asked for official names and boundaries of regions, but does not and cannot provide them.Regions are application-driven and highly susceptible to perception. Individuals might agree on the...

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What is the most common city/town name in the United States?

There are no official definitions of city, town, village, hamlet, neighborhood, etc. All named entities with human habitation are classified as Populated Place, including incorporated places (20 percent of the Nation's communities), unincorporated places (the majority), housing developments not yet incorporated, and neighborhoods within incorporated places.The most frequently occurring community...

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What is the most common city/town name in the United States?

There are no official definitions of city, town, village, hamlet, neighborhood, etc. All named entities with human habitation are classified as Populated Place, including incorporated places (20 percent of the Nation's communities), unincorporated places (the majority), housing developments not yet incorporated, and neighborhoods within incorporated places.The most frequently occurring community...

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How can I find original field notes made by USGS geologists and geographers?

The USGS Field Records Collection is an archive of unpublished field notes, maps, correspondence, manuscripts, analysis reports, and other data created or collected by USGS Geology Discipline scientists during field studies and other project work. The collection is located in the USGS Library in Denver, Colorado, and is available for on-premises examination during normal library hours. See the...

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How can I find original field notes made by USGS geologists and geographers?

The USGS Field Records Collection is an archive of unpublished field notes, maps, correspondence, manuscripts, analysis reports, and other data created or collected by USGS Geology Discipline scientists during field studies and other project work. The collection is located in the USGS Library in Denver, Colorado, and is available for on-premises examination during normal library hours. See the...

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How often are boundaries, structures, and transportation products and services updated in the National Map?

Since the USGS obtains most boundaries, structures, and transportation data from external sources, the frequency of updates depends on the release schedule of the source products.Boundaries - updates are variable.Structures - data content for map services is targeted for quarterly refresh cycles, while updated products are immediately available for download.Transportation - updates range from...

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How often are boundaries, structures, and transportation products and services updated in the National Map?

Since the USGS obtains most boundaries, structures, and transportation data from external sources, the frequency of updates depends on the release schedule of the source products.Boundaries - updates are variable.Structures - data content for map services is targeted for quarterly refresh cycles, while updated products are immediately available for download.Transportation - updates range from...

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How do I download The National Map data products?

Download or access The National Map data products via several applications and websites: The National Map Download Client – The primary site for data downloads. See the training videos (lessons 4a-4d) or click the Help link at the top of the Downloader for detailed instructions. LidarExplorer – Lidar Point Cloud data only. See where lidar is available, get a list of downloadable products, and...

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How do I download The National Map data products?

Download or access The National Map data products via several applications and websites: The National Map Download Client – The primary site for data downloads. See the training videos (lessons 4a-4d) or click the Help link at the top of the Downloader for detailed instructions. LidarExplorer – Lidar Point Cloud data only. See where lidar is available, get a list of downloadable products, and...

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How are U.S. states, territories, and commonwealths designated in the Geographic Names Information System?

Several categories with different meanings and requirements fall under the jurisdiction of the United States and are contained in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data.States and DC50 States plus the Federal District known as District of ColumbiaCommonwealthsPuerto Rico (Caribbean)Northern Marianas Islands (Pacific) (former Trust Territory of the United Nations elected by plebiscite...

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How are U.S. states, territories, and commonwealths designated in the Geographic Names Information System?

Several categories with different meanings and requirements fall under the jurisdiction of the United States and are contained in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data.States and DC50 States plus the Federal District known as District of ColumbiaCommonwealthsPuerto Rico (Caribbean)Northern Marianas Islands (Pacific) (former Trust Territory of the United Nations elected by plebiscite...

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Where can I get metadata for The National Map products and services?

Metadata for The National Map products and services is available through the following sources:In The National Map Viewer, click on the "Layer List" icon above the map, then click on the three dots to the right of the layer and select "Description" in the dropdown menu. Most layers in the Viewer are also available as Downloads and/or Services. Product-level metadata is included with data...

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Where can I get metadata for The National Map products and services?

Metadata for The National Map products and services is available through the following sources:In The National Map Viewer, click on the "Layer List" icon above the map, then click on the three dots to the right of the layer and select "Description" in the dropdown menu. Most layers in the Viewer are also available as Downloads and/or Services. Product-level metadata is included with data...

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What sources were used to create the Boundaries, Structures and Transportation layers in The National Map?

Boundaries: Primary sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), International Boundary Commission (IBC) for the Canadian boundary, and the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for the Mexican boundary. Boundaries include city, county, State, Federal lands, provinces, and territories; as well as cadastral data (where applicable), associated with Public...

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What sources were used to create the Boundaries, Structures and Transportation layers in The National Map?

Boundaries: Primary sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), International Boundary Commission (IBC) for the Canadian boundary, and the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for the Mexican boundary. Boundaries include city, county, State, Federal lands, provinces, and territories; as well as cadastral data (where applicable), associated with Public...

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