Branner Earth Sciences Library and the Stanford Geospatial Center host a comprehensive set of base and thematic spatial data as well as a large collection of static maps. Please contact us to get a tour of the SGC data collection or set up a data research reference appointment.

You can begin your search for GIS data online at EarthWorks, Stanford's cross institution geospatial discovery application:

Earth Works - by SGC

Below is a categorized set of links to free online spatial data organized by type of geography (Physical and Human) and sub grouped into data themes.

The sites listed here are some of the more commonly used, interesting, or hard to find GIS data online. This is not a comprehensive list and is always evolving. We are always looking for more links to good data. So if you know a website that offers free GIS Data to download or discover one of our links is not working, please let us know.

Physical Geography


Natural Earth Data Integrated raster and vector base data for the entire world at 3 scales (1:10 million, 1:50 million, and 1:110 million). Includes coastlines, continents, small islands, rivers, lakes, reefs, glaciers, bathymetry etc. Excellent cartographic base data for regional to global scale maps.

Diva GIS Data download by country. Includes water features, elevation, landcover.

UNEP Environmental Data Explorer  United Nations Environment Program Data Explorer including Global Forest Cover, Global Potential Evapotranspiration, Global Average Monthly Temperatures, Dams, Watershed Boundaries and more.


Bedmap2 Elevation surfaces for Antarctica. Includes surface elevations, ice-thickness, sea floor and sub-glacial elevations.

CGIAR 90m elevation data for the world.

GMTED multi resolution elevation data for teh world.


GEBCO General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans. Gridded global bathymetric data at 30 arc seconds and 1 arc minute.


Climate Research Unit  Global and regional climatological data. Temperature, precipitation, pressure, drought, paleo climate.


USGS Earthquake hazards data.


Remote Pixel (Landsat and Sentinel 2 downloader)


Human Geography


FAO GeoNetwork Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, GIS data clearinghouse. Includes data on agriculture, livestock, aquaculture, ocean fishing, forestry, ecology, soils, land use and land cover.

Natural Earth Data Integrated raster and vector base data for the entire world at 3 scales (1:10 million, 1:50 million, and 1:110 million). Includes administrative boundaries, roads, populated places, disputed areas, airports, railroads, urban areas.

Administrative Boundaries

GADM Global Administrative Boundaries database. Spatial database of the location of the world's administrative areas.


World Database of Large Urban Areas Historic, current and future estimates and projections with number of inhabitants for the world's largest urban areas from 1950-2050

Gridded Population of the World  Depicts the distribution of human population across the globe. Provides globally consistent and spatially explicit human population information and data for use in research, policy making, and communications.

NASA Night Lights  Composite imagery of the earth's lights at night. Lights approximate human distribution over the earth.

Simply Analytics Internet-based mapping application that enables users to develop interactive thematic maps and reports using thousands of demographic, business, and marketing data variables. Stanford users only.


World Port Index Location and physical characteristics of approximately 3700 major ports and terminals around the world.

Global Roads SEDAC global open roads GIS data. The data set combines the best available roads data by country into a global roads coverage.