Much of the world does not follow the US model of freely providing government created map data.  Data may only be available at great cost, or in many countries is not available for security reasons.  The rise of cheap and ubiquitous GPS in cell phones, and abundant satellite imagery, means that individuals can create and share map data. serves this function, and is an international effort.  They have a web mapping site, and you can download their data.

Openstreet map coverage varies, depending on the whims of whomever did the digitization. 

In most cases your choices might well to be using Openstreetmap, or nothing, but you must evaluate the map and decide which layers are usable for a particular region.

The US State Department has worked with OpenStreetMap for humanitarian relief efforts to crowd source mapping after a disaster.

OpenStreetMap is a free editable map of the whole world. It is made by people like you.  It is crowd sourced, or open source, and is similar to Wikipedia. 

Open Street Map has free streets, waterways, railroads, and other layers in shapefile format (and other formats), worldwide.

OSM download sites

Data viewer (online)

  • Download sites let you get much larger areas in a directly usable format
  • Export for a very small area from this map in OSM format, and then convert to a shapefile
  • Data Manipulation, Resample, OGR DXF/GPX/OSM to shapefile

Available coverage varies.

Baghdad, Iraq with color coding by the attribute.  This disiplay is not smart; all lines are the same width, and colors are in alphabetical order for the category names.

OSM data in Normandy, displayed with rules in a database (OSM_RULES.dbf, present in main MICRODEM directory).

This is a smart display, with the importance of the roads indicated by:

  1. Line segment width.
  2. Color.  Bright red is used for the largest roads, and smaller roads get increasingly less obvious colors.

OpenStreetMap vector data sets have the following layers:

What is included for a particular area varies, as does the completeness of coverage within the area.

OpenStreetMap Features (web wiki)

Using OpenStreetMap in MICRODEM

Last Revision 11/4/2019