Geographic Names Information System
The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a database that contains name and locative information about more than two million physical and cultural features located throughout the United States of America
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
and its territories. It is a type of gazetteer
A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place names , used in conjunction with a map or a full atlas. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup of a country, region, or continent as well as the social...
. GNIS was developed by the United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...
in cooperation with the United States Board on Geographic Names
United States Board on Geographic Names
The United States Board on Geographic Names is a United States federal body whose purpose is to establish and maintain uniform usage of geographic names throughout the U.S. government.-Overview:...
(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. The database never removes an entry, "except in cases of obvious duplication".
Name changesThe GNIS accepts proposals for new or changed names for U.S. geographical features. The general public can make proposals at the GNIS web site and can review the justifications and supporters of the proposals.
- The Bureau of the Census defines Census Designated Places which are a subset of locations in the National Geographic Names Database.
- U.S. Postal Service Publication 28 gives standards for addressing mail. In this publication, the postal service defines two-letter state abbreviations, street identifiers such as boulevard (BLVD) and street (ST), and secondary identifiers such as suite (STE).
- The names of post offices have historically been used to back up claims about the name of a community.
- GEOnet Names ServerGEOnet Names ServerThe GEOnet Names Server provides access to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names' database of geographic feature names and locations for locations outside the United States. The database is the official repository of foreign place-name decisions...
, a similar database for locations outside the United States
- Canadian Geographical Names Data BaseGeographical Names Board of CanadaGeographical Names Board of Canada is a national committee of the Canadian Government Department of Natural Resources which authorizes the names used on official federal government maps of Canada since 1897. The board consists of 27 members including one from each of the provinces and territories...
, a similar, but non-public-domain, database for locations within Canada only
- United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical NamesUnited Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical NamesThe United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names is a periodic international conference organised by the United Nations Statistical Commission, the central purpose of which is to facilitate the standardization of national geographical names...
- U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, National Mapping Division, Digital Gazeteer: Users Manual, (Reston, Virginia: U.S. Geological Survey, 1994).
- Least Heat Moon, William, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1982). ISBN 0316353299
- Jouris, David, All Over The Map, (Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 1994.) ISBN 0898156491
- Report: "Countries, Dependencies, Areas Of Special Sovereignty, And Their Principal Administrative Divisions," Federal Information Processing Standards, FIPS 10-4. Standard was withdrawn in September 2008, See Federal Register Notice: Vol. 73, No. 170, page 51276 (September 2, 2008)
- Report: "Principles, Policies, and Procedures: Domestic Geographic Names," U.S. Board on Geographic Names, 1997.
- U.S. Postal Service Publication 28, November 2000.