geoBoundaries: A global database of political administrative boundaries

PLoS One. 2020 Apr 24;15(4):e0231866. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0231866. eCollection 2020.


We present the geoBoundaries Global Administrative Database (geoBoundaries): an online, open license resource of the geographic boundaries of political administrative divisions (i.e., state, county). Contrasted to other resources geoBoundaries (1) provides detailed information on the legal open license for every boundary in the repository, and (2) focuses on provisioning highly precise boundary data to support accurate, replicable scientific inquiry. Further, all data is released in a structured form, allowing for the integration of geoBoundaries with large-scale computational workflows. Our database has records for every country around the world, with up to 5 levels of administrative hierarchy. The database is accessible at, and a static version is archived on the Harvard Dataverse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual*
  • Internationality*
  • Internet
  • Politics*
  • Quality Control

Grant support

This work was performed in part using computing facilities at the College of William and Mary which were provided by contributions from the National Science Foundation, the Commonwealth of Virginia Equipment Trust Fund and the Office of Naval Research. D.R. received two awards which supported this research. Award one was from the Cloudera Foundation, Award two was from the Jeffress Memorial Trust, which has no online presence. The Intel Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Deloitte provide support in the form of salaries to authors R.O., L.S., and L.H., but did not have any role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.