Natural Earth Version 1.1 release notes

The download manager will be updated the next couple weeks. In the meantime, please check out the ZIP, linked below, to get the 61 changed GIS shapefiles (SHP). Release notes follow.

NOTE: Version 1.1.1 corrects the name of the 50m cultural “50m_admin_0_countries” file by adding the missing “r” (XQHSANQW71), updated March 15, 2010. Thanks Ben!

Thanks to over 50 contributors for making version 1.1 happen!

Tom, Dick, Craig, Jill, Landon, Preston, Nancy, Alfred, Brett, Annemarie, Hans, Martin, Kristin, Gene, Laris, Donatas, Kevin, Kurt, Tom, Xan, Bill, Ed, Uffe, Jochen, Christopher, Carlos, Barry, Alex, Victor, Kimi, Steve, daan, Maxb, Matt, Eugene, Damien, mizDannasag, Zoonseovasupem, Chris, Bjørn, Prof. Ward, Michael, Roy, Daniel, Kim, Gustav, Uwe, Geoff, Kumiko, Robert, Mike, Hugo, and Leo.

If you have a few hours to help, please check out the TODO listings below and email me at

Visitors: 123,000 page views since we launched in early December, 2009. Over 30,000 visits (20,000 unique) from 157 ISO countries, or 4.25 pages per visit. 65 percent are new visits. Visitors spend an average of 3 minutes 51 seconds on the site with a bounce rate less than 50 percent. Source: Google Analytics.

Downloads: 34,000. Three out of 4 downloads is ala cart, except for 10m cultural which is 1 out of every 2. Three out of every 4 downloads is for the 10m, with the rest split between 50m and the 110m.  Just less than 1 out of every 2 downloads is for the raster. Source: Download Manager.



  • ADDED – National Parks for the United States of America.
  • ADDED – Landscan urban polygons (masks for population extraction out of original LandScan data). Keep using the existing urban areas theme, this one is for research modeling only.
  • REMOVED – admin 0 marine boundary lines. The indicator lines are still there.

More than 50% changes

  • 10m, 50m, 110m Cities has new towns being added, 30m selection created, various corrections, now include IDs, bounding boxes from the landscan data, and historical populations for 500 mega cities. As this triples the file size, a new “simple” version is also available with the updates, but not the full attributes.
  • 50m and 110m Admin 0 and admin-1 get better country names and thematic codes, including slight reranking of some units and link out to the Correlates of War database (cShapes).
  • 50m and 110m Admin 0 and admin-1 in 10m are rebuilt to fix coastline offset and overlaps and gaps between countries and state/province lines.
  • 10m, 50m, 110m Geographic label points for peaks and summits. Now spun off into separate feature class.
  • 110m country boundaries, missing countries, added missing mid-range islands. Includes Caspian sea and admin-0 scale ranks.
  • All files names now use “_” underscore instead of “-” in filename for better compatibility with ArcMap.
  • Handful of file name changes for consistency.

Less than 5% changes

  • 10m Rivers and lakes. A couple names, fixed the scaleRanks to show as integers rather than strings.
  • 10m, 50m Updated the geographic areas marine names (Indonesia straight).
  • 10m, 50m Updated the geographic areas polys names (Seward Penn, Alaska).
  • 10m coastline updates for Venice. Same for land and ocean.
  • 10m bathymetry updates for several island mounts.
  • 10m Antarctic ice shelves, now includes ice shelf names.
  • 10m glaciated areas: names cleaned up, feature class column filled in.
  • 10m, 50m, 110m WGS84 bounding box has more point to aid in reprojecting as a linearized curve.
  • Fixed TWF extent on the raster imagery to improve import into popular open source GIS packages.
  • 50m ocean can now project into web Mercator.
  • 110m all cultural and most physical themes now inside the +/- 180, +/- 90bounding box.

TODO, spring 2010:

  • Better thematic codes and names on admin-1 (about 50%, can someone help on the other 50%?)
  • 10m Admin 0 and admin-1 get better country names and thematic codes, including slight reranking of some units and link out to the Correlates of War database (cShapes).
  • 10m Admin 0 and admin-1 in 10m are rebuilt to fix coastline offset and overlaps and gaps between countries and state/province lines.
  • 10m Coastline and land edits in 10m: Add in Greenland islands for towns. Remove several duplicate Pacific islands.
  • 10m Admin-1 with clipped poly and lines for larger lakes. ZZ7DR1ZXAU
  • Tribal areas in the US (US Census).
  • US National Forests (CEC North American Atlas).
  • More rivers in US, Mexico, and Canada; in Europe. Selection done, tapering in progress (CEC North American Atlas; European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environmental Sustainability). Will include minor updates to existing rank 0 to 8 rivers in terms of headwaters.
  • More towns in US, Mexico, and Canada. Selection done, location research remains on ~200 (CEC North American Atlas)
  • Roads – in US, Mexico, and Canada.
  • ArcMap MXD / Layer file

TODO NEXT, fall 2010:

  • Adding georeferenced manual shaded relief plates for select areas (US National Park Service).
  • Possibly more from the gRoads project. Data source identified. (CEC North America Atlas, gRoads CIESEN)
  • Urban areas – gain names, more towns get latLng bounding box, remove bad polygons, move some. Data source identified. (University of Madison, Wisconsin)
  • Wetlands – polygons. Data source identified. (University of Madison, Wisconsin)
  • Incorporate US physiographic regions from Matt Fox. Other refinements to the polys. Data source identified. (USGS)
  • Add in alt names for more populated places using GeoNames ids.
  • World protected areas (terrestrial, marine)


  • Are we missing a theme or have one to contribute? Please comment on this post!

After the jump, full listing of changes.

NOTE: This is NOT an exhaustive list of changes. It includes the publicly submitted Correction requests (and their tracking IDs) and the majority of other changes made by the authors. If you have a question about one of the changes listed (or missing), please comment on this post.

GENERAL File names:

  • more consistency between the file names between the 10m, 50m, and 110m coverages: TNTYR1P4SL, E9ZGN9EMH4, 1B3PM884DW, AMMMVG69RD, Y3EA4YSVQV, GN7JQJ69PV, TXXQDW5L78, YLPMNZ245V
  • All “-” characters in file names have been replaced with “_” characters.
  • “with” has been removed from names that include “scale_rank” (rivers, etc).


  • 30m selection from 20m
  • resort various other cities
  • Better ranking and selection of of high latitude cities (Canada, Russia, etc)
  • Lithuania “Panevezy” city (or “Panevėžys” in local form). TGGAGZGUYA
  • Santa Cruz, Calif. not Monterrey WTPZZURTH2, PZRDHJ9Q8X
  • Use better country names on the spatial join column (easy after the CountryNames.xls join)
  • M7LLU3MUR8 Your populated places in Democratic Republic of Congo (COD) are all labeled as being in Congo Brazzaville, while those in Congo Brazzaville (COG) are labelled as being in Congo Kinshasa
  • A9SAGXV9EE You have a populated place on the Rwanda side of the Rwanda/DRC border at the NE corner of Lake Kivu. The name is given as Goma, and the alternative name as Gisenyi. Country is given as Rwanda. Add Gisenyi as separate townspot. Adjust admin-1 and admin-0 bounds.
  • Leo’s multiple Suggested corrections on populated places
  • DP4NDPW57U St. John’s (FID 1233) is not classified as an Admin-1 capitol, when it should be.
  • Fix corrupted diacritical marks: Here’s what happened to diacritics for “St. Mart??n Station” in Antarctica (south of Argentina). This looks like a disaster. UPDATE: There are only 16 possible corruptions. There are about 50 cities with diacritical marks now
  • Latitude and longitude fields recalculated: A59N4GQ23S
  • Names in Scandanavia: YJ31T7QTMU
  • Mega cities historical population from the UN for 500+ cities. Edited to match existing NE places rather than using more generalized UN placement.
  • Added missing mega cities, particularly in China and India, using GeoNames locations.
  • Geoname IDs on bulk of towns. Use this link ID to gain local language names.
  • Landscan matching bounding box extents on bulk of towns.

Admin-0 countries and details:

  • Admin-0 names disagree between the 10m, 50m and 110m features.
  • Use consistent column names.
  • Includes link out to Correlates of War database.
  • Faroe (Faroese) islands moved up to same rank as Greenland. UML5P6LNM9
  • Canary Island ranking: AXRUUBXY43

Physiographic (geography) label areas, points:

  • Repositioned elevation points to to land on summits in the raster imagery.
  • More summits have names.
  • Added peaks from (country high points and more)
  • Spun elevation points off into separate theme.
  • Corrected location of Seward Peninsula in polys.


  • 10m, 50m, 110m WGS84 bounding box has more point to aid in reprojecting as a linearized curve.


  • Now have correct extents, as of January (no change with this release): AAUNBU8H6D


Disputed areas:

  • Kashmir: LLAHP8ZLGL, M286H8MVDP
  • Golan Heights, etc.
  • Overlays for Baikonur, Diego Garcia, etc.


  • River attributes for Scale Ranks and stroke weight were string rather than int. TPYEMX98YT
  • Dissolved rivers now preserves lake centerlines so they can avoid being labeled (removing conflict with lake labels).
  • River Neris versus more important Nemuna (which is shown only from the Baltic sea to Kaunas). X6G88G56NS


  • A lake south of Kaunas is actually an artificial reservoir made by damming Nemunas and called “Kauno marios” (Kaunas). It supports the largest hydroelectric power plant in Lithuania. 84871518GL
  • Better sorted the US Great Lakes polygons: R6RL3M3TSE

Coastline, minor islands, and land:

  • Added handful of Greenland islands (in later update)
  • Removed Pacific duplicate island coastline (in later update)
  • Two Venice islands (this update)

Marine areas:

  • Straight and Sound abbreviations spelled out. Makassar Straight in Indonesia expanded. EPX5M6ERTB

Other 10m:

  • 10m bathymetry updates for island mounts.
  • 10m Antarctic ice shelves (most now named)
  • 10m glaciated areas


These  10m admin-1 updates will be pushed out in 1.2 update. If you need them now, contact for a prerelease copy.

  • Added more points along lines for smooth curves on projection of large polygons.
  • Use improved admin-0 boundaries. Use improved coastlines. Remove overlap / gap between polygons.
  • Recode some bad admin-0 column attributes. M7LLU3MUR8
  • Rwanda redo: 2GXAW4HQ1M
  • Congo and Yemen adds, resort 4NLED2STS2
  • Germany adjustments Z4BN7R9DU4
  • Name adjustments in Japan: 7MW5BGDGWA
  • Admin-1 with clipped poly and lines for larger lakes. ZZ7DR1ZXAU



  • Can now project ocean into Web Mercator: GP8LGY53RX

Marine areas (labels):

  • Straight and Sound abbreviations spelled out. Makassar Straight in Indonesia expanded. EPX5M6ERTB

Populated Places

  • Mega cities are now included.


Admin-0, Admin-1:

  • Add missing countries of Kosovo and Montenegro missing. HZP3V4X1DH
  • Duplicate consecutive points in North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. 89272PRVWP
  • Add missing mid sized islands. MAP7RQQS86
  • Adjust some boundaries.
  • Now inside the true +/- 180, +/- 90 bounding box.
  • Offer scale rank and dissolved version of the admin-0. 8T5X3RXGQH
  • Lake Victoria boundaries. YLPMNZ245V
  • Admin-0 file name now consistent with 10m and 50m. YLPMNZ245V
  • Admin-1 poly and lines match adjusted coastlines

Populated Places:

  • Regional capitals no longer appearing in the 110m populated places selection.

Coastline, Lakes:

  • Missing Caspian Sea: J3ZRB2U8RU
  • Coastline adjustments to match the land, admin-0, admin-1
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