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U.S. Board on Geographic Names

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names was established in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison and reestablished in its present form in 1947 by Congress to standardize geographic name spellings throughout the federal government. The Board's work is primarily carried out by the Domestic Names Committee and the Foreign Names Committee. NGA provides secretariat support to the FNC. FNC membership includes the Central Intelligence Agency, Departments of Defense, Department of State and the Library of Congress.

The GEOnet Names Server provides access to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names' database of foreign geographic feature names.

The database is the official repository of foreign place-name decisions approved by the BGN. Geographic Area of Coverage: Worldwide excluding the United States and Antarctica. For names in the U.S. and Antarctica, please visit the United States Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System web site.

The data served by GNS is in a geographic coordinate system based on the WGS84 datum and ellipsoid. Geographic coordinates are approximate and are intended for finding purposes. The online database is updated weekly.

There are no licensing requirements or restrictions in place for the use of the GNS data. However, we recommend using the following citation to identify the GNS as a source:

Toponymic information is based on the Geographic Names Data Base, containing official standard names approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names and maintained by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. NGA's name, initials, and seal are protected by 10 United States Code Section 425.

A CD-ROM digital gazetteer is available for domestic geographic names. Hardcopy gazetteers covering foreign areas, researched by the FNC staff, may be purchased through USGS. A booklet describing the BGN's romanization systems for 29 non-Roman writing systems is also available.

Product Search Sites

Romanization Systems
URL: http://geonames.nga.mil/gns/html/romanization.html 
Contains all of the romanization systems and Roman-script spelling conventions that are currently approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and its U.K. counterpart, the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (PCGN).

Additional Information and Resources

U.S. Board on Geographic Names
URL: http://geonames.usgs.gov
Official U.S. Board on Geographic Names Home Page

United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names Working Group on Romanization Systems
URL: http://www.eki.ee/wgrs/
Information on other transliteration systems for toponyms. 

Resources

U.S. Board on Geographic Names

​GNS Homepage

GNS Offered Services

GNS OGC Viewer Page
Provides access to Web Map Services (WMS) interface and a high level graphical search. This page can be viewed by most browsers.

GNS Text Based Search Page
Provides access to a text based query interface and mechanisms for initiating queries and generating outputs. This page can be viewed by most browsers.