Seamless Digital Chart of the World

Basemaps Seamless Digital Chart of the World

Seamless Digital Chart of the World

An enhanced and updated global GIS basemap

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The Seamless Digital Chart of the World (SDCW) is a unique, updated basemap provided in an easy-to-use, seamless GIS format.  The SDCW is based on the best currently-available global vector base map, Digital Chart of the World (Vector Smart Map 0, Edition 5 from NGA). 


It comes with a variety of enhancements and updates which make it more easily usable, at a broader range of scales, and with better cartographic results than the freely available Digital Chart of the World from which it largely derives.


This data product serves as a high-quality GIS basemap for cartographers and researchers


Major features

  • Proprietary adaptation of the Digital Chart of the World in a seamless ESRI shapefile (.shp) data format, eliminating duplicate layers and tile boundary artifacts  (see Sample Maps)
  • Updated country and province polygons (see Sample Maps)
  • Layer files and project files for ArcView 9.3 and 10.0 that simplify creation of maps with attractive, readable symbology
  • All features appear in global-extent ESRI shapefiles or file geodatabases - features customarily drawn with borders (countries, states/provinces, inland water areas, etc. are merged across DCW tiles and libraries
  • First-level political subdivisions (states/provinces) are periodically updated, and country polygons (not included in VMAP 0) are created from the updated subdivisions. Second-level subdivisions have been added for India and China
  • Inland water areas and watercourse lines have relative-flow attributes, allowing appropriate amounts of water to be shown at different scales and for different cartographic requirements
  • An improved set of populated place points, ranked by population and with improved names, allows improved symbology, labeling and scale-appropriate display of place

New in Version 10.0.2

  • Extended set of population-classified cities and towns (approximately 200,000 in a file geodatabase format), with improved name rendering (GNS names with unicode diacritics) - (see Sample Maps)
  • Internal political borders have been updated for over 60 (40 since version 10.0 countries). Codes and names for over 30 additional provinces were updated. Second-level subdivisions have been added for India, China, and Sri Lanka
  • Elevation and hillshade raster datasets, 30 arc-second
  • Kosovo as a country has been separated from Serbia. Some adjustments (reassigning islands to correct countries and adjusting borders) were made to 10 countries
  • Flow-classified rivers and streams (see below)

Flow-classified rivers and streams from the Seamless Digital Chart of the World

The combination of population-classified cities and towns and flow-classified rivers and streams allows use of the SDCW at a wider range of scales than the original DCW.  The user can reduce the clutter of smaller towns and streams.


System requirements

  • GIS software capable of reading ESRI shapefile format (.shp) and file geodatabase format.
  • Shapefiles have been tested in ESRI's ArcView 8.2, 8.3, and 9.x.
  • Projects and layers tested in ArcView 9.3 and 10.0.
  • Sample ArcView project with wizard macro has been tested in ArcView 9.3.
  • Windows system to run self-extracting .exe installation files. This need not be the computer running the GIS system, but must be able to write data to a location accessible by the GIS system.

All other technical specifications can be found in the following PDF document:

pdficon_small.gif SDCW documentation

Related Products

The Seamless Digital Chart of the World is the preferred base map for the World Language Mapping System (WLMS).