What is ESRI Data and Maps?

ESRI Data & Maps contains many types of map data at many scales of geography, and the entire dataset can be read directly from the DVD in the media kit. All vector data is provided in Smart Data Compression (SDC) format. The HTML-based Help system contains information about Data & Maps and StreetMap North America, including a complete list of the redistribution rights for each dataset. Please review this information carefully before redistributing any of this data.

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), group layer (.lyr), and map service definition (.msd) 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.

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 and North America. 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.

Most of the ESRI Data & Maps collection can also now be accessed directly from ArcGIS Online where it has been made available as a set of layer packages you can download. There are two ways to access the data on ArcGIS Online. From inside ArcMap or ArcGlobe, choose File > Add Data > Add Data From ArcGIS Online and search for the data you want to access. If you search for the 'ESRI Data & Maps' group you can browse through all the datasets it contains. Alternatively you can access ArcGIS Online in your web browser by going to www.ArcGIS.com. To go directly to the ESRI Data & Maps group so can you can browse its contents, click here.


Each dataset is fully documented with metadata, which furnishes extensive general and technical characteristics of the dataset. The metadata provides identification, originator, publisher, description, temporal/currency, status, spatial extent, keywords, accessibility (includes the redistribution rights), data quality, condition, lineage, editing, spatial data organization, spatial reference, entity and attribute descriptions, distribution, dataset size, and metadata reference information. The metadata also provides a thumbnail, which displays the full extent of the dataset.

The metadata follows two standards—the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) from the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) document 19115 Geographic Information - Metadata. In addition, ESRI has defined additional elements that are present in the metadata to support and document characteristics of datasets that are not addressed by the two standards.

The metadata is provided as a file for each dataset in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format. The Data & Maps metadata in XML can be viewed and edited in ArcGIS and can also be used with the ArcIMS Metadata Server.

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