I am an expert GIS user moving towards R more and more. I have been using R for some basic regressions and such, but I would like to begin to use and manipulate GIS data in R.

How can I create a basemap graphic similar to the one in this post: Showing spatial and temporal correlation on maps

Again, I am a beginner in R and haven't found any other related thread here.

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    $\begingroup$ There are several people on Geographic Information Systems actively using R for their work: consider searching the site. Certainly you will want to take a look at "How to make beautiful maps in R". $\endgroup$
    – whuber
    Oct 10, 2013 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, @mikeLdub. This question seems to be only about how to do this in R. As such, it may be off-topic for CV (see our help page); but could be on-topic on Stack Overflow. If you have a question about the substantive statistical / visualization issues, please edit to clarify; if not we will migrate it for you (please don't cross-post, though). If it does go to SO, it will need a reproducible example to be on-topic there; can you add a dput() of your data? $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2013 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ This question appears to be off-topic because it is only about how to use R. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2013 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ If you want, post a question to Stackoverflow and I'll answer there. It's only a few lines. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2013 at 0:28

2 Answers 2


R by itself does not handle GIS type of work but with different add-ons it can be a quite potent GIS device. You'd need to understand the idea of "package" (user-contributed scripts) and how to use install.packages("whateverPackage") command to install them.

I don't use R in GIS enough to show you the whole topography (pun totally intended), but the most commonly used packages I have seen are map, ggmap, ggplot2, RgoogleMaps, and plotGoogleMap.

Also, check out some sites and tutorials about this topic: 1, 2, 3, and 4. These got me started and within a day I could make some silly maps.

Lastly, this pdf probably contains some codes pertinent to the map you wish to create. Its $\LaTeX$ format is a bit off, but you can still get some general functionality and key commands.

Good luck!


You should read through the Spatial and possibly SpatialTemporal Taskviews on CRAN. Those will give you an idea of what packages are available and gives brief descriptions of what they do and how they compare.


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