Clearinghouses and Portals

OpenStreetMap – excellent high resolution dataset. Can download an area bound with coordinates or manually select your own box. Download is named Map with no extension. This is however an OpenStreetMap format which should have an .osm extension. FME is able to translate the data to Esri GDB format. Unfortunately no estimate of accuracy.

ArcGIS – Esri Data & Maps
“Get the latest updates to Data & Maps right now by downloading a collection of layer packages through the Data and Maps for ArcGIS Group on ArcGIS Online.”  Includes worldwide datasets.

OpenStreetMap data organized by country and country divisions
“A comprehensive list of data catalogs curated by experts from around the world.”

An open data initiative to make worldwide geospatial data readily available

GIS Data Depot (GeoCommunity)
Data for USA and world countries (includes national and provincial data for Canada).


By Continent/Country


Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment
Spatial data resources for the Congo Basin.

SAFARI 2000 Project
Archived data related to Africa’s physical environment, including soils, land cover and climate

Sudan Geospatial Data (United Nations Institute for Training and Research)
Settlements and infrastructure covering Sudan and South Sudan


Geoscience Australia (Australian Government)
Free data downloads (including GIS) for a variety of geophysical topics (includes administrative boundaries)


China Historical GIS (Harvard Univ.)
Physical features and transportation data, as well as historical place names, borders and capitals for provinces, prefectures, counties and regimes

Great Britain

Atlas of Rural Settlement in England GIS
Download a free shapefile showing the 19th-Century settlement and terrain for England

London Datastore
Greater London’s open data distribution clearinghouse

Ordnance Survey Open Data
Detailed mapping datasets for Great Britain

By Subject


Gridded Bathymetric Data Sets [British Oceanographic Data Centre]
Bathymetry of the world’s oceans at either 1-arc-minute or 30-arc-second resolution.


“WorldClim is a set of global climate layers (climate grids) with a spatial resolution of about 1 square kilometer. The data can be used for mapping and spatial modeling in a GIS or with other computer programs.”


Digital Elevation Model (DEM) Data [Yale Univ.]
Sources and references for DEM data any place on the earth.

Enhanced Shuttle Land Elevation Data – NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)

The elevation data is at 30m resolution and available via the USGS EROS Data Center. The data can be previewed and downloaded as GeoTiff files for GIS via EarthExplorer. You should prepare a zipped Shape file defining the boundary of the area you want data beforehand as EarthExplorer will use this to search for data sets. Under the Search Criteria tab choose Coordinates then Shapefile then upload your zipped Shapefile. Now under the Data Sets tab choose NASA LPDAAC Collections then NASA SRTM (SRTM 3) Collections and finally NASA SRTM3 SRTMGL1. Click Results at the bottom and you will get a list of the data sets that are available in your area. Click the Download Options icon and you can download the data sets to your computer. The resulting .HGT files can be dragged into ArcGIS as raster elevation files but should be saved as an ArcGIS GRID file or in a Geodatabase. When viewing in ArcScene you need to change the Elevation Conversion Factor to 0.00001 in order to make up for the geographic coordinate system units. Other wise when you use this as a surface to view data in 3D it will disappear as the vertical units are stretched to match the horizontal units.


USGS EROS There are no restrictions on free Landsat data downloaded from USGS EROS, and it can be used or redistributed as desired.