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Using HDX to Access High Resolution Population Density Maps and Demographic Estimates

These high-resolution maps estimate the number of people living within 30-meter grid tiles in nearly every country around the world. Additionally, our datasets provide insights on the distribution of certain populations within each country, including the number of children under five, the number of women of reproductive age, as well as young and elderly populations, at unprecedentedly high resolutions.


For detailed information about the methodology behind our High Resolution Population Density Maps and our Demographic Estimates, please visit:


These are the datasets available for download on the Humanitarian Data Exchange for nearly every country in the world:

  • Overall population density
  • Male
  • Female
  • Women of reproductive age (ages 15-49)
  • Children (ages 0-5)
  • Youth (ages 15-24)
  • Elderly (ages 60+)

Data Format

The data are distributed in two formats, Geotiff and CSV, which are described in more detail below. Please use the recommended citation when using the data: “Facebook Connectivity Lab and Center for International Earth Science Information Network – CIESIN – Columbia University. 2016. High Resolution Settlement Layer (HRSL). Source imagery for HRSL © 2016 DigitalGlobe. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.”



Geotiffs are a common format for raster GIS data. All common GIS software packages can read geotiffs. The value in each cell is the (statistical) number of people in that grid. This is commonly fractional, and sometimes less than 1. Geographically, each cell of the geotiff represents a 1-arc-second-by-1-arc-second grid. This is a 30.87-meter-by-30.87-meter square at the equator. Due to the Earth’s curvature, the east-west length of this cell decreases as one gets closer to the poles. For example, at 49 degrees latitude, it is a 30.87-meter-by-20.25-meter square. Each geotiff’s metadata has the coordinates of the northwest corner, which allows the grid to be overlayed on maps. The projection/datum is EPSG:4326/WGS84, which is encoded in the metadata.

Comma Separated Values

Comma Separated Value (CSV) files are in the format latitude, longitude, population. The latitude and longitude are the (EPSG:4326/WGS84) coordinates of the center of the 1-arc-second-by-1-arc-second grid cell. The value is the (statistical) number of people in that grid; as above, this is commonly fractional and occasionally less than one.

How to Access Data

The steps below briefly describe how to access the data.

Step 1: Go to the Humanitarian Data Exchange website (link below), and search for “High Resolution Population Density + Demographic Estimates”

Step 2: Once you’re there, you will see a list of all available countries for which we have released these datasets. Pick any country, and you will see 14 files: 2 for population, and 12 for demographics.

Step 3: Each file is named according its demographic category. For each category, there are two files in formats of either CSV or Geotiff.

How to Open the Geotiff File Using QGIS 3.0

a. [Option 1: CSV] The CSV file, if downloaded, contains the following columns: (1) Latitude (2) Longitude (3) Population for that Demographic. Each row of latitude/longitude represents an area corresponding to the resolution of 1 arc-second (approximately 30m x 30m).

b. [Option 2: Geotiff] The Geotiff file, if downloaded, can be opened using any GIS tool (e.g. QGIS The figure below shows a rough sketch on how to open the Geotiff file using QGIS 3.0.


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