[Talk-us] admin level for US states

Sarah Hoffmann lonvia at denofr.de
Tue Nov 25 09:59:08 UTC 2014

On Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 10:29:25AM +0100, Martin Koppenhoefer wrote:
> 2014-11-24 21:18 GMT+01:00 Minh Nguyen <minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us>:
> > Assuming this table reflects the actual state of the map, most countries
> > have chosen 4 for their state equivalents.
> >
> Actually, many countries do not have something like a "state equivalent",
> it is a particularity of the USA because they are a federal republic.

admin_levels have been invented "in order that different borders can be
rendered consistently among countries" according to the wiki[1]. That's
also what I remember. "State eqivalent" doesn't mean that they must be
organised exactly in the same way but that they are roughly at the same
level of administrative hierarchies. Under that definition US states are
the same as German bundesländer, French regions, Canadian provinces etc.
even though their political influence and internal organzisation is
wildly different.

There is a lot of software around that works under the assumption that
US states (and the equivalents in other countries) can be found at 
admin_level=4. The current admin level hierarchy is not perfect but
it works for most practical applications. Please don't break it.
If you need to have a more find-grained distinction on how the
administrative units are organised, I suggest introducing a new tag
instead of changing the meaning of a well-established one.

Kind regards


[1] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Admin_level#admin_level

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