Shapefiles are a simple, non-topological format for storing the geometric location and attribute information of geographic features. The coordinates in shapefiles use the Cartesian coordinate system. That is, ascending horizontal values go left to right and ascending vertical values go up.


The shapefile format defines the geometry and attributes of geographically-referenced features in several files with specific file extensions that are stored in the same folder on disk. They are:


.shp - the file that stores the feature geometry.

.shx - the file that stores the index of the feature geometry.

.dbf - the dBASE file that stores the attribute information of features.


The geometry of each feature is stored as a shape which comprises a set of vector coordinates. The attributes for each feature are stored as a record in a dBASE table(.dbf) associated with the shapefile (.shp). There is one record in the dBASE table for each feature in the main file.





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