Natural Earth version 1.4 release notes

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Over 65 files have changed in version 1.4 of Natural Earth. The most significant edits reflect the July 2011 independence of South Sudan. That country’s administrative level-1 units have also been refreshed, and the disputed area of Abyei is retained.

Mea culpa: A major correction fixes a coding error introduced in version 1.3 that incorrectly merged Panama and Papua New Guinea into a super country in some admin-0 files. Version 1.4 reestablishes them as separate countries.

Because of South Sudan, the admin-0 (sovereign, country, map units, map subunits, scale ranks, scale ranks with minor islands), boundary lines land, disputed areas and boundaries, etc. have all been updated in the 10m, 50m, 110m scale sets.

50m admin-1 states and provinces now includes a version with the lakes punched out, like the 10m has enjoyed since version 1.3.

The 10m admin-1 file now includes a “scale rank” exploded version that will import into a wider range of GIS and CAD software packages that cannot import polygons over a certain vertex count.

Other changes and corrections are detailed below and credited to the correction request author.

Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso and Tom Patterson 19 August 2011


Lakes, 10m

A lake south of Kaunas on the Nemunas river has been recoded as an artificial reservoir named “Kauno marios”. 84871518GL via Donatas Bruzas

Rivers, 10m

Database structure changes: Name1 is now Name, Name2 is now Name_alt Attribute changes: Several dozen missing strokes weights were corrected, 1/2 dozen scaleRanks. One new mystery river segment.

There are some northern European rivers with accent mark problems. Please note them and your corrections will be incorporated into the next version of Natural Earth.

River changes in this release, Daniel Huffman unless otherwise noted:


  1. 1. The stream marked as the Parana in Argentina has been renamed: the lower stretch is the lower portion of the remains Parana, then the Paraguay upstream from the confluence of the Paraguay and Parana. Then Cuiaba upstream from its confluence with the Paraguay, on up to the source.
  2. The Angara, a tributary of the Yenisey river, in Russia was at a scale rank 2 while it’s parent was scale rank 4.
  3. Upper section of the James River is the Cowpasture River.
  4. South Branch of the Potomac, near its source, edited to add wiggle that matches National Atlas.
  5. La Grand Riviere in Canada name fix.
  6. RivNum 22874 renamed Pahsimeroi river
  7. The Palouse river headwaters extended to Idaho
  8. The Grand Ronde is likewise shorter than National Atlas suggests, starting a bit farther south than marked.
  9. Similkameen river edited to match with the 10m Admin-1 vectors and branch off from the Okanogan at Oroville, WA, and then proceed west & north into Canada, where it remains.
  10. Where the Snake River joins the Columbia River, part of the path of the Columbia was marked as the Snake.
  11. Sweden river funk: ‘Dallven’ instead of the correct ‘Dalälven‘. A few others like that, need more clarification. via Graham Asher
  12. IJssel river in Netherlands was incorrectly named Irrawaddy via Nathaniel

North America Rivers supplement

Database structure changes: Name1 is now Name, Name2 is now Name_alt Removed River, abbreviated Creek, North, South, East, West, Branch, etc. in the Name column to make consistent with the basic Rivers theme. Preserved the original in Name_full.

River changes in this release, Daniel Huffman unless otherwise noted:


  1. River names in U.S. desert south west. via Daniel Huffman
  2. The Marias River, a tributary of the Missouri in Montana, is listed as the “Marais” in the Natural Earth dataset.
  3. Upper portion of the stream marked as the “Maury River” (tributary to the James in Virginia) is the Calfpasure River, which joins the Little Calfpasture River a bit southeast of Goshen to form the Maury.
  4. Rivnum 23000 is the San Pedro River. The Natural Earth line appears to give a source just inside the US, but the National Atlas line has a source in Mexico.
  5. Rivnum 22432 is San Cristobal Wash.
  6. Rivnum 22467 is Centennial Wash
  7. Rivnum 22474 is the Hassayampa River, headwaters extended north.
  8. Rivnum 22435 is San Simon Creek.
  9. Rivernum 22453 & 22997 appear to correspond to the Santa Cruz River. Renamed and extended headwaters south and cut the northern section so it drains to flats instead of the Gila river.
  10. 22525 is Santa Maria River & Sycamore Creek
  11. 22534 is Big Sandy River
  12. 22550 is Trout Creek
  13. 22676 is Meadow Valley Wash
  14. 22533 is Carrizo Creek & Carrizo Wash
  15. 22506 is Largo Creek
  16. 22549 is Puerco River
  17. 22596 is Chinle Creek & Chinle Wash
  18. 22584 is Chaco River & Chaco Wash

Europe rivers supplement

Database structure changes: Name1 is now Name, Name2 is now Name_alt

Marine label areas

Now includes French names for most features. Corrections for Helodranon’ Antongila to Antongila Bay. Karskiye Vorota Strait looses Vorota as that already means Straight. W66SYEA9V1 via Olivier HENRY


Graticules at 10m, 50m, 110m now have reasonable ScaleRank values.

Geographic Lines

Geographic lines at 10m, 50m, and 110m demotes the pre 1995 date line segment down to 100, giving Null Island company. Display column has been removed, Name column added with shorter version of the old Display name. Name_Long contains that former column, but renamed in keeping with current Natural Earth practices. Also, Abbrev column added for short names. Note now contains the “1995 Kiribati adjustment” and the like, including: “Any given day starts here and progresses west, with yesterday nipping at its heals.” And a FeatureClass column to bring into alignment with Natural Earth current practices.


South Sudan has been added as a new sovereign nation and redid it’s admin-1 (see below). The disputed area of Abyei remains a disputed polygon. Q7VBJ7XW76 via Alexander

Papua New Guinia and Panama in the 10m-admin-0 countries file are two countries once again.

Noted by: 4RDZ9J1R88 via Scott Zillmer JU6UJAXH2Lvia Charles Petersen 5BZUP2EYP6 via Friedrich Hartmann 6Y21U9Y7VA via Chris Chubb TZ44154J58 via Ilya Boyandin JT23E4D8QZvia Adam Drackley J7PWLS5M5U via John Loyd XGRGZJL4SB via Phillip Summers

The South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were missing the words South Sandwich. UN9HD8TGPN and L68N24ZSMP via Chris Chubb

Sint Maarten is a adm_0 country via Nathaniel

Admin-0 maritime boundaries, 10m

Corrected the maritime boundary between Maine and New Brunswick. Tom

Admin-1 polygons and lines, 10m

Small portion of the Rhode Island/Massachusetts boundary was missing in the NEV databases. The portion in question was the part of Rhode Island that lies on the mainland, just east of the Sakonnet River and the city of Newport, and just south of Fall River, MA. GGXMDTGUMB via Scott Zillmer

All US state boundary fixes: Tom and Nathaniel

  1. R.I.-Mass.
  2. Va.-N.C. now bends south in the middle.
  3. Del.-Penn. boundary bends differently.
  4. Tenn.-Ala.-Ga.-Miss.
  5. Kan.-Col.
  6. Neb.-Co.
  7. Neb.-Wy.
  8. S.D.-Wy.
  9. S.D.-Mont.
  10. N.D.-Mont.
  11. Iowa-Mo.
  12. Modify the DC shape a bit to better match more detailed zooms and remove part of the adm-1 line on the shore.

Sudan and South Sudan edits (merging, splitting, renaming). Nathaniel

The ADM1NAME Ãstfold corrected to Østfold. Q9DMPA6XLN via andskog

Zhejiang – Should be labeled as the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Is part of Australia. RENAMED Niue – Is not part of Australia, but independent. Associated with New Zealand. DELETED as admin-1 units are not shown for small countries. Kerguelen Islands are part of France DELETED as admin-1 units are not shown for small countries. QNMYQYU9SS via Chris Chubb

Niassa Province in Mozambique is incorrectly spelled as ‘Nassa’. ‘Niassa’ is there as a varname, but the province has never been called ‘Nassa’. GYG4BWS5RB via Casey Ryan

Populated places (10m, 50m and 110m)

Norwegian cities, in whole related to the special characters æ, ø and å. The following corrections should be made: Baerum -> Bærum, Svolvaer -> Svolvær, Tonsberg -> Tønsberg and Vadso -> Vadsø. Q9DMPA6XLN via andskog

Baguio City in the Philippines is still the defacto summer location of the supreme court (judiciary branch of government), a similar situation as Chile and a couple other countries, but is now coded as “Admin-0 cap alt”. However, Quezon City and Pasay City are downgraded from Admin-0 capital alt to “Populated place” as the recent constitution states that the entire admin-1 unit of Manila is the national capital and they fall inside that feature. 17XS2A4GZ1 via Chris Chubb

The place name Wiener Neustadt in Austria (that is the proper name of the city) had the wrong NAME attribute “Wiener”. 3RDY2Y7B8Y via Alex Mayrhofer

Across the Mekong from Nakhon Phanom (Thailand), Natural Earth has a settlement marked “Khammouan” in Laos. Khammouan(e) is the name of a province. The actual city across the river appears to be the capital of said province, Thakhek. N2NH6V1U48 via Daniel Huffman

San Carlos moved east out of Lake Nicaragua.

Primarily in Iran, Egypt, and Lebanon. “Name in NEV” >> “Should be”: RBRUMXDUH6 via Scott Zillmer

  1. Dayr az Zawr >> Dayr az Azwr
  2. Khoramabad >> Khorramabad
  3. Shahr E Kord >> Shar e Kord
  4. Zagizig >> Zagazig
  5. Damanhr >> Damanhur
  6. Nabatiyet et Tahta >> Nabatiye et Tahta

Greeneville, NC should be Greenville, NC 5M22AZRSHG via Tim Stallmann

Two point features labeled Bayankhongor in Mongolia. Kept the ‘southern’ point, delete the northern one. Southern feature featureType changed to “Admin-1 cap”. HUYQG4MQWG via Joel Murray

  1. Pavel Fomin says:

    “Vorota” doesn’t mean “straight”. It means “gates”.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    @Pavel: Should it be Karskiye Gates translated into English? Or singular “Karskiye Gate”?

    • Charles Petersen says:

      It’s the “Kara Strait” in English. In Russian: Proliv Karskiye Vorota, or “Kara Gates Strait.” One of the entrances to the Kara Sea, a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean.

  3. Sean G says:

    It seems some part of Somalia (Somaliland) is missing from ne_10m_admin_1_states_provinces_scale_ranks and ne_10m_admin_1_states_provinces_lakes in both the shapefile and geodatabase.

    • Nathaniel says:

      Somaliland functions as a separate admin-0 country but it’s internal boundaries are not known. It is not considered part of Somalia in Natural Earth. Somalia does include admin-1 units. If you can furnish admin-1 for Somaliland, we’ll add it to Natural Earth. The recommended graphic display pairing for admin-1 is to show admin-0 under it. There are several, mostly small, countries that do not have admin-1 units. If you use the admin-1 alone, those won’t show up at all.

  4. Anjali says:

    Which imagery did you use for digitizing the admin boundaries? I mean the 10m reso one.

    Is it MODIS? May I know the date of the imagery as well?


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