An ESRI shapefile is a popular geospatial vector data format used in GIS software. It stores non-topological geometry and attribute information for spatial features. A shapefile actually consists of a collection of files with the same name but different extensions, which work together to represent the data:
- .shp: This file contains the geometry data, representing points, lines, or polygons.
- .shx: This file is an index file that allows software to quickly locate specific geometry records within the .shp file.
- .dbf: This file is a dBASE database file that stores the attribute data for each feature in the shapefile.
These three files are mandatory for a shapefile. However, additional files can be included to provide more information:
- .prj: This file contains the coordinate system and projection information in a plain text format.
- .sbn and .sbx: These files are spatial index files that improve the speed of spatial queries on the shapefile.
- .cpg: This file is an optional plain text file that specifies the code page for character encoding of the attribute data (.dbf file).
It is important to keep all the related files together in the same folder, as they are interdependent and required for the proper functioning of the shapefile.
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