United Nations Statistics Division
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Projects with member states

UN Map

UN Cartographic Section (UNCS) is developing global multi-scale geospatial datasets (or UNmap) for rapid map production and web mapping in support to the Security Council and the Secretariat including UN field missions. Currently an interim version of UNmap in scales of 1:1 million, 1:5 million and 1:10 million are in a final stage of completion and being used as primary geo-databases for UNCS and UN field missions. The purpose of UNmap is to develop and maintain a spatial data infrastructure (integrated with the datasets of UN international boundaries and SALB as well as UN Gazetteer) for UN needs that will provide a single homogeneous dataset of global geospatial features of the world for any mapping purpose. UNmap is a series of geo-databases for core mapping layers (international and administrative boundaries, coastlines, drainage, water bodies, roads, railways, airports, populated places and urban areas) in various scales (1:1-10 million for global coverage and 1:250K, 50K, 25K, 12.5K and 5K for UN field missions).

Global Map

Global Mapping Project, launched in 1996, is an international cooperation initiative through voluntary participation of national mapping organizations in the world, and led by the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM) and its Secretariat, c/o Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI). Global Map aims to develop a digital geo-information framework ensuring spatial resolution at 1 km, with standardized specifications and available to everyone at marginal cost. Global Map datasets consist of 8 basic layers (Boundaries, Drainage, Transportation, Population Centres, Elevation, Land Cover, Land Use, and Vegetation) for currently 71 countries and 4 regions, collectively covering 60% of the whole land area. Global Map (global version) for elevation, land cover and vegetation (percent tree cover) layers wholly covers the land area of the globe.

UN International Boundaries

UN Cartographic Section (UNCS) is developing a GIS-based UN International Boundary Information System (UNIBIS) that provides a knowledge base of international boundary issues with treaties, relevant documents, maps and satellite imagery as well as status of disputed boundaries in support to the Security Council and the Secretariat as well as the Member States. The objective of this knowledge base is to prevent potential conflicts, resolve border dispute and support border demarcation as well as cross-border cooperation. UNIBIS allows the research of data related to the status of international boundaries including analysis and interpretation of the satellite imagery, treaty maps and other relevant material. Updates and maintenance of international boundary geo-database is carried out in order to build the capacity for rapid response to the growing demand of Member States especially in conflict areas and for the assistance in international boundaries delineation and demarcation as well as cross-border.


Launched in 2001, the Second Administrative Level Boundaries (SALB) dataset project is providing the international community with a working platform that covers all the UN Member States for the collection, management, visualization and sharing of data/information down to the second administrative level. The administrative boundaries are a fundamental component of any national spatial data infrastructure and constitute vital basic data for the work of many decision-makers, managers, planners and other users in a variety of sectors: census, health, education, regional development, water, agriculture, energy and environmental resources, etc. to name a few. The project, developed under the leadership of WHO, has been recently handed over to the UN Secretariat where coordination and policy issues have been taken care by UNSD and technical aspects have been under responsibility of UNCS.

UN Gazetteer

UN Cartographic Section (UNCS) is developing a global place name database and search engine (or UN Gazetteer) in support to the Security Council and the Secretariat including UN field missions. The UN Gazetteer is employing “fuzzy logic” to find place name locations worldwide. It accomplishes this by searching with a place name’s phonetic spelling (how it sounds) and searching through a database that contains over 8 million entries. Many place names have multiple spellings. A search for a location may not return a result even though a different spelling is in the database. Searching through the use of phonetic spelling resolves this problem. Lessons learned indicate that in emergency situations it is difficult to locate the effected place on the map which of course hinders response time. Situational intelligence also depends on locating place named events. These challenges can be avoided/reduced through the development of a UN Gazetteer that would collect, update and validate place names with geo-coordination from UN field operations and NGOs as well as the Member States. The Gazetteer was developed specifically to address these needs and the Cartographic Section continuously working to improve functionality. The database of place names would be incorporated into the UNmap geo-database for additional utilization as well.

WGS 84

The World Geodetic System defines a reference frame for the earth, for use in cartography, geodesy and navigation. The latest revision is WGS 84 dating from 1984 (last revised in 2004), which will be valid up to about 2010. WGS 84 is the reference coordinate system used by the Global Positioning System. The US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) develops, maintains, and enhances WGS 84.


The GEOPortal provides convenient access to the full range of GEOSS data and information, under the leadership of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Operated by the European Space Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it provides a web-based interface for searching and accessing data, information, imagery, services and applications. It connects users to a variety of data bases, services and portals that provide reliable, up-to-date, integrated and user-friendly information – vital for the work of decision-makers, managers and other users of Earth observations. The content available via the Portal continues to expand at a rapid rate and promises to reach a critical mass in the near future.


OneGeology is an international initiative of the geological surveys of the world. This project, launched in 2007, aims to create dynamic digital geological map data for the world and make it accessible via its portal (OneGeology Portal).

ReliefWeb Location Maps

ReliefWeb, the humanitarian information service managed by OCHA, has produced a series of Location Maps for use by the UN and wider humanitarian community. These maps can be embedded into documents, reports, briefing notes and websites as needed. The ReliefWeb Location Map is a map that highlights a country, its capital and the surrounding region. These 200 country location maps are now available and can be downloaded at http://reliefweb.int/location-maps.