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 – Version 10.5 Update released April 2017

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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 ArcGIS 10.1 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, Sri Lanka, 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 10.5

  • Topology has been created for political, coastline and ocean feature classes to clean up gaps and features which didn’t align along borders.
  • First level administrative areas updated to approximately mid-2014. India and Sri Lanka districts to 2011 census. This has involved changes in over 30 countries and over 300 provinces.
  • File geodatabase, SDCW.gdb is included. This puts a copy of almost all shape file data in a single file geodatabase.
  • South Sudan has been split from Sudan.
  • Fields for the GENC (Geopolitical Entities, Names, and Codes) 2 and 3 letter codes have been added for countries and the administrative code is included for provinces.
  • FIPS 10-4 (GEC) codes added for all coastlines and political boundaries. This allows the ability to create subsets (Definition Queries) of these features.
  • Some other minor changes and updates.

System requirements

  • GIS software capable of reading Esri shapefile format (.shp) and file geodatabase format.
  • Shapefiles have been tested in Esri's ArcGIS 10.1 – 10.5.
  • Projects and layers tested in ArcGIS 10.1.
  • Sample ArcGIS project with wizard macro has been tested in ArcGIS 10.1 and above.
  • 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).