Open Street Maps

OSM data maps-- The three links below allow the downloading of up-to-date data shapefiles from OpenStreetMap mapping. The first link Geofabrik requires no subscription. The second and third Humanitarian Street Maps and Open Street Map require that users are registered with OpenStreetMap(OSM). Registration with OSM is free at

Geofabrik -- Geofabrik provides shapefile downloads refreshed daily of selected data (roads, buildings, residential areas, etc.) for all countries from Open Street Maps. Data is available at the country level as shapefiles for most developing countries as well as some smaller industrialized countries. Data for larger countries is often provided only at lower levels of administration--for example states or provinces.  The organization of data can be a bit  confusing. For example, the main menu allows you to select country  data for individual continents by clicking on the continent name. If you click on Africa you will find a list of files for each country with a shapefile.  If you click on North America you will find no shapefile for Canada or the US but shapefiles for all individual Canadian provinces or US states-- to find the shapefiles for the individual provinces of Canada, you must however select by clicking on Canada. The same rules apply to the other continents. Note that mapping on Open Street Maps is done by volunteers and the completeness of coverage--particularly in rural areas-- varies from country to country. The main menu is at at .

Humanitarian Open Street Maps (HOT)--The HOT export tool ( allows users to draw the areas and identify the data they wish to download. The site provides more choice than Geofabrik but may require several downloads to get complete coverage of a larger country. There is no charge for the data but users have to register before they can request downloads. Recently (March  2021) the HOT server has been very slow and updating may not take place on a regular basis.

OpenStreetMap -- Open Street Map provides the facility to download shapefiles from the page on which mapping is being done. There is an "Export" label among the mapping provisions provided near the left hand top of the page. Clicking on the "Export" button brings up a page on which the user can select an area to download.The user is required to list the options for which data is requested. The size of the download is limited. The file produced is "hot.osm" but the "hot" portion can be changed to another name. The file normally works with newer versions of QGIS but if there are problems there is a QGIS plugin available.

Copyright 1998/2021 GRI    Updated 15 March 2021