[R] Off topic? Geographic data

Roger Bivand Roger.Bivand at nhh.no
Thu May 3 21:15:19 CEST 2007

On Thu, 3 May 2007, Alberto Vieira Ferreira Monteiro wrote:

> Sorry if this is off-topic, but since there are so many data sets in R,
> I wonder if there is any data set with Geographic data, like 
> (latitude,longitude) lists of the contour of the continents and
> countries.

Please see the Spatial Task View on CRAN. In general, position data is 
heavily protected outside the US, so that existing and available data is 
limited for other countries. The maps and mapdata packages have some 
databases, some of which are also up to date, but others still feature the 
Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, which is only of historical interest. 

There is an interface to more recent shorelines in the maptools package,
which will handle all the levels of detail in GSHHS. The CDC has a set of
shapefiles covering many countries with borders from about 1997, but sadly
these are restricted. Some enlightened countries are releasing data;
Canada has recently decided to do so: http://www.geogratis.gc.ca/, an
initiative other countries could with benefit follow. The US has by far
the most developed geographical data service sector, because the data are
free like beer but hard to use, creating opportunties for service
providers. Most of these data formats can be read by functions in maptools
or rgdal.


> Alberto Monteiro

Roger Bivand
Economic Geography Section, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of
Economics and Business Administration, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen,
Norway. voice: +47 55 95 93 55; fax +47 55 95 95 43
e-mail: Roger.Bivand at nhh.no

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