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matplotlib toolkit to plot on map projections

The matplotlib basemap toolkit is a library for plotting 2D data on maps in Python. It is similar in functionality to the matlab mapping toolbox, the IDL mapping facilities, GrADS, or the Generic Mapping Tools. PyNGL and CDAT are other libraries that provide similar capabilities in Python.

Basemap does not do any plotting on its own, but provides the facilities to transform coordinates to one of 23 different map projections (using the PROJ.4 C library). Matplotlib is then used to plot contours, images, vectors, lines or points in the transformed coordinates. Shoreline, river and political boundary datasets (from Generic Mapping Tools) are provided, along with methods for plotting them. The GEOS library is used internally to clip the coastline and polticial boundary features to the desired map projection region.

Basemap provides facilities for reading data in netCDF and Shapefile formats, as well as directly over http using OPeNDAP. This functionality is provided through the PyDAP client, and a Python interface to the Shapefile C library.

Basemap is geared toward the needs of earth scientists, particular oceanographers and meteorologists. The author originally wrote Basemap to help in his research (climate and weather forecasting), since at the time CDAT was the only other tool in Python for plotting data on map projections. Over the years, the capabilities of Basemap have evolved as scientists in other disciplines (such as biology, geology and geophysics) requested and contributed new features.

Package version:1.0.3+dfsg-2



basemap - plot on map projections (with coastlines and political boundaries)
using matplotlib.


python 2.4 (or higher)

matplotlib 1.0.1 (or higher)

numpy 1.4 (or higher)

The GEOS (Geometry Engine - Open Source) library (version 3.1.1 or higher).
Source code is included in the geos-3.3.3 directory.

PIL ( is optional (only


Q: It takes a long time to make a plot with the 'intermediate' or 'high' 
resolution coastlines, how can I speed it up?

A: There is a overhead in processing boundary datasets when a Basemap 
class in created, and this overhead can be significant for the higher 
resolution boundaries.  If you are makeing many maps for the same region, 
you only need to create you Basemap class instance once, then 


basemap (1.0.3+dfsg-2) unstable; urgency=low

  * debian/rules
    - set MPLCONFIGDIR to a writable directory, so it won't fail to build the
      doc; thanks to Lucas Nussbaum for the report; Closes: #676058

 -- Sandro Tosi <>  Fri, 15 Jun 2012 19:51:28 +0200

basemap (1.0.3+dfsg-1) unstable; urgency=low

  * New upstream release
    - removed geos-3.3.3 from tarball, hence the d


version 1.0.3 (git tag v1.0.3rel)
* fix some more python 3 compatib


Upstream-Name: basemap

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