The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is the Federal standard for geographic nomenclature. The U.S. Geological Survey developed the GNIS for the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, a Federal inter-agency body chartered by public law to maintain uniform feature name usage throughout the Government and to promulgate standard names to the public. The GNIS is the official repository of domestic geographic names data; the official vehicle for geographic names use by all departments of the Federal Government; and the source for applying geographic names to Federal electronic and printed products of all types. See http://geonames.usgs.gov for additional information.
The Geographic Names Information System contains information about physical and cultural geographic features of all types in the United States, associated areas, and Antarctica, current and historical, but not including roads and highways. The database holds the Federally recognized name of each feature and defines the feature location by state, county, USGS topographic map, and geographic coordinates. Other attributes include names or spellings other than the official name, feature designations, feature classification, historical and descriptive information, and for some categories the geometric boundaries. The database assigns a unique, permanent feature identifier, the Feature ID, as a standard Federal key for accessing, integrating, or reconciling feature data from multiple data sets. The GNIS collects data from a broad program of partnerships with Federal, State, and local government agencies and other authorized contributors. The GNIS provides data to all levels of government and to the public, as well as to numerous applications through a web query site, web map and feature services, file download services, and customized files upon request.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names was created in 1890 and established in its present form by Public Law in 1947 to establish and maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. The Board serves all government agencies and the public as the central authority to which name inquiries, name issues, and new name proposals can be directed. It is comprised of representatives of Federal agencies associated with land management and cartography. Sharing its responsibilities with the Secretary of the Interior, the Board develops principles, policies, and procedures governing the use of both domestic and foreign geographic names as well as undersea and Antarctic feature names.