Global Geographic Names

The Global Geographic Names database contains the names and location of approximately 6.5 million features of interest throughout the world. The features include mountains, government buildings, forests, parks, and many more. Many of the locations in this database are already included in the default Google Earth installation when you enable the Places of Interest layer; however, they are sometimes difficult to see if you do not have the Google Earth view in exactly the correct location and the Places of Interest layer does not contain all of the entries.

This list was created by merging the Geographic Names databases maintained by the USGS and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (both updated as of December, 2009). Only the feature names, classification and locations were extracted from the source databases to keep the file sizes manageable in Google Earth. Even with just the basic information, this is almost 300 megabytes of raw data and 1.5 gigabytes of KML code.

The placemarks were broken down into 2×2 degree tiles sections which will load and unload automatically as you navigate around the earth. Just zoom in close to the earth and the placemarks should become visible automatically. Dense urban areas might take a few seconds to load, depending on the speed of your internet connection. They won’t become visible until you are fairly close to the earth.

Click on a location to bring up a balloon with a link to search Google for the place of interest.

Global Geographic Names

Download With Google Earth

Credits

Google Earth Library

USGS

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

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9 comments to Global Geographic Names

  • Nice little project. The obvious way to control the data would be to use network links based on view based refresh to select the grids, and regioning to control the amount of data shown based on proximity. Also, I would suggest a better choice of icons for places. Does the data have population for places? If so, you could size icons based on location.

    It would be nice to be able to selectively control parameters such as font size, regioning levels, label colors, icons, etc. And then automatically generate a variation on the network link to show the data. That would take some work though.

    • Thanks Frank. You’re correct, that there is a lot that can be done with this. What you see now took a minimal amount of effort on my part. Basically, I loaded the source data into MS Access. Exported a text file containing the fields I wanted. Loaded that text file with a beta of Global Mapper 11 (which has a new feature to automatically create the 3×3 degree grid index), and hit export to KMZ. I could also add different icons for the different categories of places, or allow the user to turn on/off different categories.

  • I’m not sure if it varies by monitor type, but my laptop will show approximately 1 degree latitude by 3 degrees longitude at an eye altitude of approximately 130 miles. Maybe that could be included in your notes as a recommended maximum zoom out.

    Also, if the grid is reconfigured in the database to 1×3 to match the display, it might cut down on the processor loading. No need to load points that will not appear on the screen anyway.

    • ‘m not sure if it varies by monitor type, but my laptop will show approximately 1 degree latitude by 3 degrees longitude at an eye altitude of approximately 130 miles. Maybe that could be included in your notes as a recommended maximum zoom out.

      I think that will vary by monitor resolution and also the latitude you’re looking at. For example, go up near the poles and it will change quite a bit. I’m trying to get the Global Mapper developer to add another option to the export, which will automatically turn on/off the grids as you navigate around. If I can do that, then I’ll make the grids smaller.

  • hilmann

    my state is italy.
    area VENICE\PADOVA\VERONA\ECC. NO DOWNLOAD END NOT SEE!
    sorry my english
    byes hilmann

  • hilmann :

    my state is italy.
    area VENICE\PADOVA\VERONA\ECC. NO DOWNLOAD END NOT SEE!
    sorry my english
    byes hilmann

    hilmann, I see all kinds of stuff near Venice. Try it again.

  • John O'

    Hello;

    This may sound a bit daft, but is the data (6.5 million records) available to download by itself? Sort of like a gazeteer?

    Thanks.

    John O

  • Jason

    Is there a way to stop my current view in GE from being changed when I turn the layer on? Every time I load this layer, GE zooms out and locates over the Pacific Ocean.

    Thanks,
    Jason

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