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Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ

By Topic: Geography / Maps


How do I find a Census tract code for a specific street address?
The Census Bureau offers an ... (more)

How many people reside in urban or rural areas for the 2010 Census? What percentage of the U.S. population ...
The urban areas of the United States for the 2010 Census contain ... (more)

What data can I get for ZIP Code Tabulation Areas?
You can get population and housing data for ... (more)

How do I determine if my geographic area of interest is urban or rural?
In March 2012, the Census Bureau released the list of Urban Areas and their boundaries, based o... (more)

What is the TIGER/Line Shapefile metadata and how is it useful?
The Census Bureau releases TIGE... (more)

How can I find the latitude and longitude of areas such as census tracts?
The Census Bureau’s Gazetteer Fi... (more)

Where can I view the census tract and/or block boundaries for my area?
An easy way to view Census tract or block boundaries is to use our interactive web mapping application, ... (more)

Does the Census Bureau offer any geographic files that have statistical data already attached?
The Census Bureau offers the following geographic files that include statistical data: Shapefi... (more)

How can I get the TIGER/Line Shapefiles? Are they available on DVD, CD, the Internet, etc?
TIGER/Line Shapefiles are currently available for download from the Internet through ... (more)

Can I get industry data for census tracts, block groups, townships, American Indian reservations or other s...
The only geographic area types shown in the economic census are states, metro areas, counties, places (e.g., towns an... (more)

How do I convert decimal degrees for latitude and longitude to degrees, minutes, and seconds?
In our TIGER data base and other files, we show latitude and longitude in decimal degrees because it's easier fo... (more)

How accurate are the coordinates in the TIGER/Line Shapefiles?
Coordinates in the TIGER/Line Shapefiles have six decimal places, but the positional accuracy of these coordinates ma... (more)

What are the latest TIGER/Line Shapefiles available?
The TIGER/Line shapefiles are released yearly, usually in late summer/ early fall.  The yearly rel... (more)

Where can I find land area data?
Land area data is stored in the Census Bureau's MAF/TIGER database (MTdb) and is available in several of our online p... (more)

Some of the TIGER/Line Shapefiles don’t show an accurate shoreline, what is the reason for this?
The TIGER/Line Shap... (more)

How large are the TIGER/Line Shapefiles?
The size of each file varies greatly depending on the area and the type of geography it represents. The majority of the ... (more)

Why are some streets missing from the TIGER/Line products?
The Census Bureau uses various internal and external processes to update the geographic database from which we extrac... (more)

What is the difference between urban and rural?
Urban All territory, population, and housing units in urban areas A cluster... (more)

Is there a corresponding ZCTA for every United States Postal Service ZIP Code™?
... (more)

 How does the Census Bureau define “urban” and “rural?”
The Census Bureau’s urban-rural classification is fundamentally a delineation of geographical areas, identifying both in... (more)

How can I determine if my address is urban or rural?
The 2010 Urban Areas can be viewed using ... (more)

Is there a file that shows the relationship between 2010 Census ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) and U.S...
... (more)

Why does the Census Bureau only have data for ZIP Code tabulation areas (ZCTAs) and not for ZIP Codes™?
... (more)

How are census block boundaries determined?
Census blocks are statistical areas bounded by visible features such as roads, streams, and railroad tracks, and by n... (more)

What is the difference between a FIPS code and an ANSI code?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has taken over the management of geographic codes from the National Ins... (more)

Where can I find enumeration district maps?
The National Archives and Records Administration  has... (more)

Why does the internal point included in the gazetteer files and TIGER/Line shapefiles sometimes not fall ex...
The Census Bureau calculates an ... (more)

Where can I find data for urban and rural areas?
The Urban Area Program at the U.S. Census Bureau maintains a ... (more)

What is the relationship between ZCTAs and other statistical areas (such as census tracts) or governmental...
... (more)

Do you have the physical characteristics for areas such as census tracts, counties, and ZCTAs?
There is a file on our Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer... (more)

Do you have any information on the Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ) boundaries?
The Geography Division updates Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ) and Traffic Analysis District (TAD) boundaries once a deca... (more)

What projection is used for the TIGER/Line products?
All versions of the TIGER/Line Shapefiles, going back to 2008, are entirely in NAD83.   For the... (more)

Does the Census Bureau produce maps or shapefiles for land or tax parcels?
The Census Bureau does not produce maps or shapefiles for land or tax parcels.  Also, census b... (more)

What is the MABLE Geographic Correspondence Engine?
MABLE is a geographic correspondence tool which allows users to crosswalk various Census geographies such as Con... (more)

How often are legal boundaries in TIGER updated?
... (more)

How often does the Census Bureau update the boundaries of urbanized areas and urban clusters?
The Census Bureau reviews and updates urbanized area and urban cluster boundaries every ten years, following the decenni... (more)

How many ZCTAs cover the nation?
... (more)

Do ZCTAs reflect commercial ZIP Codes™?
... (more)

How often are ZCTAs updated?
... (more)

How has the Census Bureau’s urban-rural definition changed over time?
From the 1910 Census through the 1940 Census, the Census Bureau defined “urban” as any incorporated place that contained... (more)

Why does the census block where I live have a different ZCTA than my ZIP Code™?
... (more)