Public Release of Shanghai and China Geospatial Data

Over the last decades, I have produced and accumulated a fair number of geospatial data (maps) in the form of GIS vector layers (shape files) on Shanghai and China. My collection is of course much more developed for Shanghai as the city represents my major work field. Under the current ENP-China project, new layers are being produced that are also included in today’s public release.

The series of vector layers made available to the public are organized in four sub-collections: “Shanghai_Basics”, “Shanghai_Topics”, China_Basics”, and “China_Topics”. “Basics” refer to base maps such as administrative  (district, xian, census) limits, hydrography, etc., while “Topics” refers to maps produced for specific subjects such as demography, death, war, etc.  Base maps can be easily reused for various research topics.

The name of the sub-collections is included in the keywords that describe each dataset. I believe that many shape files are unique, especially the reconstruction of the historical street grid and the creation of a historical geocoder for Shanghai.

I am making all the shape files available  on Virtual Shanghai in the “Data” section. There are now 27 records (see below), each with several shape files. Each data set is provided as a zipped file that contains the whole package of files.

I have used both ArcGIS and QGIS in the course of my work, but I have exported all the vector layers from QGIS as either shape files or geopackages (new QGIS format). All this geospatial data is realeased under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The direct link to the page is Just type “GIS” and you will get the list of available files.

All the shape files for the “Shanghai_Basics ” and “China_Basics” collection have been uploaded. I plan to add the “Shanghai_Topics” collection over the next few weeks/months, depending on time (I need to document each shape file). Feel free to download, share, transform. Let me know if you find things that need corrections. I am also delivering these resources to the Branner Library at Stanford University for long-term preservation (check out Earthworks).

Christian Henriot

Current state of available shape files

Cite this blog post
Christian Henriot (2022, September 25). Public Release of Shanghai and China Geospatial Data. Elites, Networks and Power in modern China. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

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