OSM Inspector/Views/Places

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The Places view in OSM Inspector shows nodes tagged with place=* such as cities, towns, villages, and islands.


Places such as cities and towns and their names are important for rendering nice maps. This view shows those places, their populations numbers and errors such as wrong population format and places without names. It shows the hierarchy of places from megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants down to hamlets with only a few.

Data sources

All data in this view is derived from OSM data.

Data for the whole world is available in this view.


The Settlement hierachy layer with its sublayers shows different place types ordered by size. (See also place=*.)

Layer Tag Population size
Megacities place=city >=10 Mio
Large cities place=city >=1 Mio and <10 Mio
Cities place=city <1 Mio (typically >100 000)
Towns place=town (typically >10 000 and <100 000)
Villages place=village (typically <10 000)
Hamlets place=hamlet (typically <1000)

The Other place types layer with its sublayers shows different common place types: Islands (place=island, place=islet), Suburbs (place=suburb), Farms (place=farm), Localities (place=locality), Municipalities (place=municipality). The Unknown layer shows place types not recognized my the OSM Inspector. This doesn't mean that they are necessarily wrong, but they often are. The OSM Inspector knows about some less used place types such as country, but they are not shown, neither in their own layer nor in the Unknown layer.

The Errors layer has two sublayers: Population not a number shows population=* tags that don't have a simple number in there. These should be fixed. Without name shows places without a name=* tag. Having a place without a name doesn't make much sense so this should be checked and fixed.

The Warnings layer has two sublayers: Population number format shows population=* tags that contain a number but also some extra characters such as spaces, dots, or commas. Population should just be a plain number, so they should be fixed. Unusual population size shows places where the place type (city, town, village, or hamlet) and the population size don't match. For instance a hamlet with 1 million inhabitants wouldn't be a hamlet any more, would it? As there is no fixed definition of those place types that would work everywhere in the world, only exceptional cases are reported.

If you activate the Show population layer in addition to any or all of the layers from the Settlement hierarchy the population sizes for those places is shown below the marker. Places without a population size get a violet "halo" around their marker. Note that this layer doesn't showing anything by itself, it has to be activated together with the layers from the settlement hierarchy.

What you can do with this view to improve OSM data

Fix population format

Disable all layers except the Population not a number and Population number format layers. Look at each case in turn and correct the population number format. Population numbers should be plain integers with no spaces, dots, commas or other characters in there.

Good: 1637200
Bad: 1 637 200
Bad: 1.637.200
Bad: 1,637,200
Bad: about 1000000
Bad: > 1 Mio

Add population numbers

Activate the Settlement hierarchy and Show population layers, deactivate all others. Look for places that have a violet "halo" around their marker. Those places have no population numbers. Research the population numbers and add a population=* tag to the node.

If you have a preference for a certain area, work on this area. If not, you can start with cities and work your way down through towns and villages to hamlets.

(Megacities and Large cities always already have a population number, otherwise they would have been classified as Cities.)

Fix tagging of places

Many places have been tagged in the wrong way. For instance you can often see a tag place=some_name where it should be place=place_type and name=some_name. Disable all layers except the Other place types -> Unknown layer and go looking for this kind of error and fix it. In many cases it is obvious what the original mapper meant, even without knowing the place.

Add name to places

Disable all layers except the Without name layer. Check for places in areas you know and add their names.


I'm getting this error albeit the tags are perfectly correct.
layer: errors_unknown_place_type node_id: 1894696008
error: unknown_place_type value: neighbourhood
lastchange: 2012-09-02T14:02:21Z --Papou (talk) 22:10, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

See also

place=*, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlement_Hierarchy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megacities