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Geographic Information Systems (GIS)


Welcome to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) guide! This guide provides background information on GIS, as well as links to suggested books, journals, databases, and resources on the web. 

What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are the systems that enable users to create, manage, analyze, and map all types of data. GIS connects data to a map, empowering the user to better understand patterns, relationships, and the geographic context of the data. GIS is used across disciplines and organizations to identify problems, monitor change, manage and respond to events, forecast change and events, set priorities, and understand trends.


Illustration of the various layers that can be used in a GIS, from top to bottom: boundaries, elevation, geographic names, hydrography, land cover, orthoimagery, structures, and transportation.

Sexton, Pamela Ann. Eight base layers of The National Map [digital image]. United States Geological Survey.