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Public-images-osm logo.svg place
The place tag is used on a single node to mark the centre of a named settlement as well as on the whole area to mark its extent.
Group: Places
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasuse on relations unspecified
Documented values: 25
Useful combination
See also
Status: de facto

Main article: Places

Used to indicate that a particular location is known by a particular name, to indicate what sort of "place" it is. A place tag should exist for every significant human settlements (city, town, suburb, etc.) and also for notable unpopulated, named places.



The simplest and most widespread method to map most place types is to position a node at the recognized centre of the place, which should be location of the town hall, central square, or similar for a populated place.


Another method of mapping places is to delineate their outline and map them as an Area. This method allows to precisely define the extent of the place but does not allow specifying its centre. For some applications, in particular for routing programs not having a place centre specified causes problems because estimating a centre point from the area geometry is often very inaccurate.

This method should only be used if the place has a verifiable outline.

place=island and place=islet for example typically have a well defined outline and no defined centre so they are normally mapped as areas. Very large places like place=continent, place=ocean and place=sea are by convention always mapped as nodes.

Mapping populated places as areas

Populated places (in particular place=city, place=town, place=village, place=hamlet and place=isolated_dwelling) are usually mapped as nodes since in most cases they have a well defined centre but not a verifiable outline. Some mappers map populated places as areas none the less with the geometry representing one of the following:

  • The smallest administrative unit the place is part of and that fully includes the place. This often conflicts with the administratively declared places listed below and often includes areas that are not commonly considered part of the populated place.
  • An aggregate/merger of urban landuses that are considered to belong to the place. This creates difficulties in particular in regions with larger agglomerations and connected settlements where it is often not clear where exactly one place starts and another one ends.
  • An approximate hull polygon drawn around all parts of the populated place but not meant to represent a meaningful outline.

Because of the lack of verifiability and the different conflicting ideas for the meaning of the outline and because the well defined centre of the place which is useful and important for many applications is not part of such mapping it is not advisable for mappers to map populated places as areas but to map them as nodes. Data users should not expect the area geometries of populated places to have a particular meaning.

Additional tags

If you have a way of knowing the population of a place (from a free data source), the population=* tag typically is added to the same object the place tag appears on.

Also useful is the addition of wikidata=*/wikipedia=*.


See below for the main tag values

Administratively declared places

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Populated settlements, urban

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Populated settlements, urban and rural

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Other places

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See also

  • border_type=*
  • place:ph=* - a Philippines-specific tag used on places unique in the Philippines. It is still proposed, but already used.