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Guide to data that comes with ArcGIS > ESRI Data and Maps > Getting started with ESRI Data and Maps

An overview of ESRI Data and Maps

Release 9.3
Last modified August 5, 2010
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ESRI Data & Maps contains many types of map data at many scales of geography.

The entire dataset can be read directly from the DVDs in the media kit that comes with ArcGIS. All vector data are provided in Smart Data Compression (SDC) format. Most raster data included are in JPEG 2000 format.

In addition, most of the data is also available as layer packages via ArcGIS Online, ESRI's cloud-based repository of data. If you have ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 you can access these layer packages directly and add them to your map in just a couple of clicks. Simply launch this link in your web browser. This takes you to the group in that contains the ESRI Data & Maps layer packages. You can browse that group or search it. You can also extend your search to all of ArcGIS Online's content so you can find layer packages provided by the GIS community at large. Layer packages are not supported in ArcGIS Desktop 9.3. ArcGIS Online also includes map services such as imagery, streets, shaded relief etc that you can add into your maps and globes as basemaps. The link below shows you how to access the key ESRI basemaps from ArcGIS Online.
Learn more about ArcGIS Online

Before redistributing any of the ESRI Data & Maps data, please review this help topic:
Learn more about redistribution rights

Each dataset includes a metadata (.xml) file providing complete documentation as well as an ArcGIS ® layer (.lyr) file displaying symbols and classifications for the dataset when viewed in ArcGIS. Each SDC file also includes a projection (.prj) file storing the coordinate system information used by ArcGIS. Map document (.mxd) and group layer (.lyr) files are included for all geographic areas to provide symbolized maps of the datasets. Published map (.pmf) files that can be viewed with ArcReader™ are also included for all geographic areas.

Data & Maps is organized on five DVDs. The Data & Maps and StreetMap™ North America DVD contains the StreetMap North America dataset as well as the Data & Maps vector data. The other four DVDs include all the elevation and image datasets. One of the four contains the 90-meter Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) global digital elevation model with all the void areas filled as well as many other worldwide elevation and image datasets. The remaining three DVDs contain regional data for North and South America, Europe and Africa, and Asia and Australia. Each of these regional DVDs includes global imagery captured at 150-meter resolution as well as shaded relief derived from the SRTM global digital elevation model. In addition, all five DVDs contain the Data & Maps HTML-based Help system.

This data is useful for general purpose basemaps and for more specific uses. The data can make a new user productive and the software useful as soon as it is installed. General basemap information is available for the world, North America, and Europe. The significant basemap layers included are boundaries, cities, rivers, and roads. In addition, where possible, demographic data is provided for subnational boundaries such as states, counties, or their equivalents.


Each dataset is fully documented with metadata, which furnishes extensive general and technical characteristics of the dataset. The metadata provides unique identification, description, content, purpose, status, accessibility, creator, publisher, data quality, condition, spatial data organization, spatial reference, entity and attribute descriptions, distribution, and metadata reference information. The metadata also displays a "thumbnail," which is a small, graphic image of the dataset. The metadata follows two standards—the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) from the Federal Geographic Data Committee and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) document 19115 Geographic Information - Metadata. The metadata is a file provided for each dataset in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. The Data & Maps metadata in XML can be viewed in ArcGIS and can also be used with the ArcIMS Metadata Server.

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