Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Regional Data

State of Michigan GIS Open Data Portal.  
“The State of Michigan Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Mapping Site provides access to GIS data, and information across the GIS community in Michigan. The site is maintained by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget's Center for Shared Solutions in collaboration with State agencies and other partners." For population data, go to the Census Statistics and Demographic Data page from the State of Michigan. The DATA.CENSUS.GOV and the American Community Survey pages at the Census Bureau can be used to create detailed custom tables.

MSU GIS Guide 
Much like this guide with a few more resources. Here is their link to Michigan & Great Lakes Data.  The world, the nation, and other data links are available off that page.

Web GIS  
Much more than the Marquette data that you first see is available here.

Great Lakes Commission  
View data online as well as download it--includes hydrology and bathymetry.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
Contains national and regional data.

Historical county boundaries: Michigan. From the Newberry Library in Chicago. All 50 states are available.

Hiawatha National Forest and Ottawa National Forest.

Great Lakes Ecological Assessment Data
This resource is "an interagency effort to collect and consolidate new and existing environmental, biological, and socioeconomic information in the Northern Lake States." An additional resources is the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework

Mineral Resources, Online Spatial Data for Michigan.  
From the USGS. Clicakble map of counties in Michigan. The entire US is also available. The "National and global datasets" as well as the "Additional studies and data" tabs will contain links to the data.

National Data

National Map  
Under the "Small Scale Data Download" link you can download shapefiles, from land cover to water.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Transstats 
Recently redesigned, the information is not as easy as it once was to locate.

The federal government's public gateway for providing access to geospatial information. A wide variety of data categories are available containing data from federal, state, local and private sources. Searchable via a text search or an interactive map.

Also from the Fedearal Government, Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) 
National foundation-level geospatial data within the open public domain that can be useful to support community preparedness, resiliency, research, and more. The data is available for download as CSV, KML, Shapefile, and accessible via web services to support application development and data visualization. 

ArcGIS Open Data 
If you have an online subscription to this program, you can freely exchange data. 

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) 
Data by subject, coversion tools and applicaitons, metadata catalogs.

U.S. Census Bureau Geography webpage. Older census boundary files may be obtained from National Historical Geographic Information System: NHGIS. For demographic data, visit the DATA.CENSUS.GOV website.

Download soil data. This is a request service: you must wait for your data to be created.

Landcover Database from MRLC 
Online version of landcover data from 1992, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Geospatial Data Gateway
Data from: Farm Services Agency, Rural Development, National Geospatial Center of Excellence (NGCE), Aerial Photography Field Office (APFO), Web Soil Survey, eFOTG (Field Office Technical Guide), Geo.Data.Gov, APFO Customer Order Entry System, USGS Maps, Imagery and Publications, National Atlas, National Map Viewer 2.0, US Census Bureau Geography, Download TIGER/Line Shapefiles, and Download Public Land Survey System Data.

Links to data from the University of Arkansas  
National, state and international sources. Every large university with a GIS program/library will have lists of resources (such as the University of Oregon).

You might also prefer to simply go to's agency list and search for the agency you'd like or search for GIS in the search engine along with your topic.

Every state has a GIS data clearinghouse of some sort or anotherHere is a list of them from Purdue University.

USGS GIS Data Download.   
Search by topic, location, and year.

International Data

A collaborative catalog of open geodata websites around the world (includes US data).


Natural Earth Data 
Free vector and raster map data at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110m scales.

ESRI's Arc GIS Online

Canada's free GIS portal.

Natural Earth Data 
Public domain map dataset available at 1:10m, 1:50m, and 1:110 million scales.

GIS Lounge 
A listing of resources by country--will also direct you back to sources already mentioned here on this page.

Mad Mappers.
African GIS data accessible to all.

European Environment Agency Data and Maps.

Additional Resources

ESRI Support Page and ArcGIS Resource Center. The latter is pre-May 2014 support with a link to newer resources.

The Illustrated Guide to Nonprofit GIS & Online Mapping. A publication from Contains a brief introduction to mapping and GIS technology and concepts, examples of successful nonprofit projects using GIS and/or mapping technologies, helpful strategies for planning your own mapping/GIS project, a review of public data sources with freely available data, and a brief review of free and low-cost tools for nonprofit mapping and GIS projects.

Hundreds of free Geography & Mapping books are available from National Academies PressA search for GIS returns over 1400 publications

Cartography 2.0. An online map and GIS textbook. This is a free online knowledge base and e-textbook for students and professionals interested in interactive and animated maps. Link takes you to the Internet Archive--the original link,, is dead.  

Mapping, Society, and Technology.  An Open Textbook from the University of Minnesota.  Available in multiple formats.

Dictionary of Abbreviations and Acronyms in Geographic Information Systems, Cartography, and Remote Sensing.

Geospatial Solutions. A GIS magazine (with additional resource and career information) closely associated with GPS World.

GIS Lounge.  An information site covering research and case studies about the applications of geographic information systems, geospatial technologies, and cartography.   The purpose of this site is to provide introductory text for issues relating to GIS as well as interesting news items, tips, and resources for the geospatial field.

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