The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is the Federal
and national standard for geographic nomenclature. The U.S. Geological Survey
developed the GNIS in support of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names as
the official repository of domestic geographic names data, the
official vehicle for geographic names use by all departments
of the Federal Government, and the source for applying geographic
names to Federal electronic and printed products.
The GNIS contains information about physical and cultural geographic
features of all types in the United States, associated areas,
and Antarctica, current and historical, but not including roads
and highways. The database holds the Federally recognized name
of each feature and defines the feature location by state, county,
USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates. Other attributes
include names or spellings other than the official name, feature
designations, feature classification, historical and descriptive
information, and for some categories the geometric boundaries.
The database assigns a unique, permanent feature identifier,
the Feature ID, as the only standard Federal key for accessing,
integrating, or reconciling feature data from multiple data sets.
The GNIS collects data from a broad program of partnerships with
Federal, State, and local government agencies and other authorized
contributors, and provides data to all levels of government,
to the public, and to numerous applications through a web query
site, web map and feature services, file download services, and
customized files upon request.
The GNIS Feature ID,
Official Feature Name, and Official Feature Location are American National Standards Institute standards as specified in
ANSI INCITS 446-2008 (Identifying Attributes for Named Physical and Cultural Geographic Features (Except Roads and Highways)
of the United States, Its Territories, Outlying Areas, and Freely Associated Areas, and the Waters of the Same to the Limit of
the Twelve-Mile Statutory Zone). The standard is available at the ANSI Web Store.
New Policy Regarding the Maintenance of Administrative Feature Names in the GNIS
Effective October 1, 2014:
As a result of reprioritized budgets and resources, the decision has been made to
suspend the maintenance of feature categories classified in the Geographic Names
Information System (GNIS) as administrative (i.e., cultural or manmade).
However, a select number of administrative features will continue to be maintained
by other USGS programs supporting The National Map. These features will be updated
in GNIS on a periodic revision cycle. If you are interested in participating in
the USGS National Map Corps program, which “encourages citizens to collect structures
data by adding new features, removing obsolete points, and correcting existing data
for The National Map database,” please visit the following web site:
http://navigator.er.usgs.gov. To identify the administrative features
to be maintained through The National Map Corps program, click Structures List,
located on the left-hand side of the web page.
If you have further questions, please visit The National Map home page at: http://nationalmap.gov.
Inquiries may be submitted to The National Map via the link at the bottom of the page.