Geographic Names Information System

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The logo of the United States Geological Survey (USGS)

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a database of name and locative information about more than two million physical and cultural features throughout the United States and its territories, Antarctica, and the associated states of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. It is a type of gazetteer. It was developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) to promote the standardization of feature names.


The database is part of a system that includes topographic map names and bibliographic references. The names of books and historic maps that confirm the feature or place name are cited. Variant names, alternatives to official federal names for a feature, are also recorded. Each feature receives a permanent, unique feature record identifier, sometimes called the GNIS identifier. [1] The database never removes an entry, "except in cases of obvious duplication." [2]

Name changes

The GNIS accepts proposals for new or changed names for U.S. geographical features through The National Map Corps. The general public can make proposals at the GNIS web site and can review the justifications and supporters of the proposals.

Other authorities

See also

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  1. "United States Census County Based TIGER/Line® 2009 Data Dictionary: Entity, Joins, Attributes and Domains". Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  2. Cartographic Users Advisory Council (CUAC) (26–27 April 2007). 2007 Agency Presentation Minutes. Reston, VA: United States Geological Survey (USGS). Archived from the original on 11 January 2014.

Further reading