Our map data

All the map data that appears in our template map styles comes from Mapbox tilesets.

A tileset is a collection of raster or vector tiles broken up into a uniform grid of square tiles at 22 preset zoom levels.

Raster tilesets contain a collection of images at various zoom levels that make up a complete map. A raster tileset source makes up the Mapbox Satellite style.

The rest of our map styles are created using vector tilesets. Vector tilesets contain geometries and metadata (like road names, place names, and house numbers) in a compact, structured format. Vector tiles are rendered only when requested by a client, like a web browser or a mobile app.

Vector tilesets contain only geographic data, geometric data, and metadata, and do not inherently have any style properties.

Key terms

It can be helpful to understand key terms related to map data.

For more detailed definitions, click the terms below or visit the Glossary.

  • vector tiles: a lightweight data format for storing geospatial vector data
  • tileset: a collection of raster or vector data broken up into a grid
  • core tileset: a Mapbox tileset that anyone can use
  • premium tileset: a Mapbox tileset available for purchase
  • custom tileset: a Mapbox tileset created by a Mapbox user
  • projection: a method for transforming 3D spatial data into a two-dimensional map

Example of vector data in a map style

The map on the left shows the geometries that are included in the Mapbox Terrain tileset. The map on the right shows the Mapbox Outdoors style, which combines data from the Mapbox Terrain and Mapbox Streets tilesets and applies styling rules to that data to create the map you see in your browser.

See the Map design guide for more information on how map styles work. All our template map styles are created using some combination of our Mapbox tilesets, which are described below.

Mapbox tilesets

Mapbox-hosted tilesets begin with the prefix mapbox. and are hosted on Mapbox servers. Learn about the three types of tilesets below.

Core tilesets

All Mapbox users can access and use Mapbox Streets, Mapbox Terrain, Mapbox Traffic, Mapbox Satellite, and Mapbox Countries.

Mapbox StreetsMapbox Streets is a vector tileset that includes streets, buildings, administrative areas, water, and land data based on a combination of proprietary Mapbox data, Open Data projects including OpenStreetMap, and data vendors for certain geographic areas.
Mapbox TerrainMapbox Terrain is a vector tileset that includes a worldwide elevation data set complete with contours, hillshade, and landcover data.
Mapbox TrafficMapbox Traffic is a vector tileset that provides congestion information that is updated every 5 minutes, with road geometries originating from OpenStreetMap.
Mapbox SatelliteMapbox Satellite is a raster tileset that includes global satellite and aerial imagery from a range of sources, processed and seamed together by Mapbox. You can read more about our satellite imagery in the Satellite imagery guide.
Mapbox CountriesMapbox Countries is a vector tileset that includes country level polygons from the Mapbox Boundaries premium tileset. You can use it to add global administrative country boundaries to maps and data visualizations.
Core tilesets documentation
Complete documentation, including source IDs, layer names, and data sources for Mapbox tilesets, can be found in our vector tiles reference and specification documentation and in the Mapbox Satellite glossary entry.

Premium tilesets

For full access to all boundaries, you must purchase access to Mapbox Boundaries. For more information on accessing Mapbox Boundaries, contact Mapbox sales.

Tileset nameTileset description
Mapbox BoundariesMapbox Boundaries is a vector tileset that you can use to add global administrative, postal, and statistical boundaries to maps and data visualizations.
Premium tilesets documentation
Complete documentation, including source IDs, layer names, and data sources for Mapbox Boundaries, see our guides and reference documentation.

Custom tilesets

You can create your own custom tilesets with Mapbox Studio, Mapbox Tiling Service, or the Mapbox Uploads API. Learn more in our add new data getting started guide.

How our data works

This guide covers Mapbox tilesets, which are the main source of Mapbox-provided data you'll work with if you're using Mapbox tools.

Vector tilesets

Working with vector tilesets opens up additional features for building dynamic maps, including:

  • Dynamic styling. Using Mapbox GL JS or the Mapbox Maps SDKs for Android and iOS, you can adjust your map's appearance dynamically, without having to download new tiles.
  • Smooth interactions. Because all your map data is loaded in the map client, you can re-render the map quickly, enabling smooth zooming, tilt, and rotation.
  • Size and speed. While the vector tile format is not inherently small or performant, Mapbox's cartographers have done a lot of work to make sure that Mapbox-provided vector tiles are well balanced between level of detail and performance.
  • Dynamically querying. You can use this feature to access your map data's properties right from your vector tileset.

Mapbox provides several different vector tilesets that you can use in your maps. Note that not all data included in a tileset exists at every zoom level. To keep maps lightweight, Mapbox cartographers have carefully chosen which data should appear at each zoom level.

To find information about data sources and a complete list of layers in each Mapbox vector tileset, see our Mapbox vector tiles reference documentation. For an overview of the technical standards used in Mapbox vector tiles, see the Mapbox vector tile specification.

Raster tilesets

This section provides more information about Mapbox Terrain raster tilesets. For more information about our Mapbox Satellite raster tileset, see the Satellite imagery guide.

Mapbox Terrain-DEM

The Mapbox Terrain-DEM raster tileset is an optimized version of Mapbox Terrain-RGB, with compression applied to reduce detail at lower zoom levels. It uses the same equation to encode height into the pixel values, and can be fetched from the /raster/v1 endpoint:


Mapbox Terrain-RGB

The Mapbox Terrain-RGB raster tileset is our global elevation layer. This tileset contains raw height values in meters in the Red, Green, and Blue channels of PNG tiles. You can use the elevation data stored within Terrain-RGB for a wide variety of applications both visual and analytical, from styling terrain slope and hillshades to generating 3D terrain for video games.

Terrain-RGB uses each color channel as a position in a base-256 numbering system, allowing for 16,777,216 unique values. We’ve mapped these to 0.1 meter height increments, which gives us the vertical precision necessary for cartographic and 3D applications.

You can use this Raster Tiles endpoint to get Terrain-RGB tiles:


Then use this equation to decode pixel values to height values:

height = -10000 + ((R * 256 * 256 + G * 256 + B) * 0.1)

See our Access elevation data troubleshooting guide for more information.

Mapbox map projections

Mapbox supports the popular Web Mercator projection, and does not support any other projections. Web Mercator is a nearly conformal projection that is adopted by the vast majority of web maps and its use allows you to combine Mapbox's maps with other layers in the same projection.

Commonly this projection is referred to as EPSG:900913 or EPSG:3857. See epsg.io for more information and alternative encodings.

Using our data

You can use our map data as source data for your map styles in Mapbox Studio, access our data directly using the Mapbox Maps Service APIs, or contribute to our data sources through OpenStreetMap.

Mapbox Studio

You can use our tilesets directly in Mapbox Studio on the Tilesets page. Any time you create a new style from a template style in the Mapbox Studio style editor, you will be using a Mapbox tileset.

Mapbox Maps Service APIs

With the Mapbox Maps Service APIs, you can request Mapbox tilesets programmatically:

Contribute to OpenStreetMap

We contribute to OpenStreetMap, and you should too!

Sign up for a free account to start contributing. The OpenStreetMap web editor allows you to draw or edit features such as roads, buildings, parks, traffic signals, and labels. Read Learn OpenStreetMap for a step-by-step guide to start contributing to the project.

We've covered how Mapbox works with OpenStreetMap data, the quality controls behind it, and how you can be a part of this growing movement to provide a free and open data set for everyone.

Next steps

Now that you know you can use Mapbox map data in vector and raster tilesets, and that you can create your own custom tilesets with Mapbox, you are ready to begin building with map data.

These tutorials can help you start building:

For more information on accessing map data in premium tilesets like Mapbox Boundaries, contact Mapbox sales.