Digital Soil Map

FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World with legend, pdf-format in flat polar quartic
projection, 2007


The newest digitized version of the "Soil Map of the World" (SMW) classified according to the "World Reference Base for Soil Resources" (WRB). The WRB is the international standard taxonomie soil classification system, developed by the "International Soil Reference and Information Centre" (ISRIC), the "International Union of Soil Sciences" (IUSS) and the "Food and Agricultural Organization" (FAO) for the first Soil Map of the World in 1988. The vector data set is based on the FAO-UNESCO "Soil Map of the World".
The Digitized Soil Map of the World, at 1:5,000,000 scale, is in the Geographic projection (lat/long) intersected with a template containing water related features. It was intersected with the Country Boundaries map from the World Data Bank II. For Africa, the country boundaries are derived from the FAO Country Boundaries on the original FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World (Nachtergaele, Freddy, 2013-03-12, 12:05pm, http://www.fao.org/nr/land/soils/digital-soil-map-of-the-world/en/).

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Digital soil map of the world at scale 1:5.000.000.

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Coverage, spatial and temporal resolution

Period and temporal resolution:

  • Release 2007, version 3.6
  • 1 map

Coverage and spatial resolution:

  • Global, only land, Antarctic excluded
  • Spatial resolution: 3' x 3', cartesian grid
  • Geographic longitude: 180°W to 180°E
  • Geographic latitude: 90°S to 90°N
  • Dimension: 3600 rows x 7200 columns
  • Altitude: following terrain


  • Vector and raster, .pdf, .eps, .klm; Erdas-, IDRSIS-, Arc/Info

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Data quality

Only two additional soil maps at a global level exist, both in relatively large scale.
Furthermore there are several simplifications, which differ in scale and subject matter. The FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World is generally accepted as the most appropriate source of soil information for studies at a global range.

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Ronald Vargas
FAO-UN - Land and Water Division (CBL) / Rome / Italy
email: ronald.vargas@fao.org

Stefan Kern
ICDC / CEN / University of Hamburg
email: stefan.kern (at) uni-hamburg.de

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Data citation

Upon using this data please cite as follows:

FAO-UNESCO Digital Soil Map of the World, 2007

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