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Public-images-osm logo.svg reference_point
Osm element key.svg
A named reference point who’s name serves for local orientation Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: Named spots instead of street names
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areasmay be used on relations
Useful combination
Status: approvedPage for proposal

A named reference point who’s name serves for local orientation.

In some countries (most parts of Central America, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama…), people orient themselves in the local area using the names of reference points rather than the names of streets. While street names may also exist, they are less important for orientation. See “Named spots instead of street names” for details.


In some countries (Central America) reference point based descriptions are either common, or the only addressing system used. Rather than street names and numbers, proximity to a well known location is given. These reference points can practically be anything that has a defined location. The reference points can be highly obscure to visitors, as they are usually unlabeled. (But also landmarks, that are visible from afar, can be reference points.)

Also the location of objects, that do not exist anymore, can be a reference point. For example: In Managua, capital of Nicaragua, a lot of reference points are still from the time before the 1972 quake which destroyed much of the city. Think of a water tower, that has been destroyed but its position serves still as reference point.

Reference points are needed to get proper route-planning working in Central American countries. Reference points are also used as addresses: You do not use an address system in the european sense, but a sort of “instructions for getting somewhere”. Examples of addresses using a reference point:

  • (1) From the Old Church in Santa Ana, 400 meters east.
  • (2) From the Embassy of Spain, half a block to the south.
  • (3) From where the Cinema Cabrera was before, 2 blocks south and 20 meters east.
  • (4) From the "Little Tree" 250 meters west.

Quote: "In fact, Managua's best-known landmark, the Little Tree, grew until it was quite a big tree, was cut down and then replanted. Through it all, 'from the Little Tree...' remained the first phrase in scores of Managuan addresses." ( Ref: ).

How to use

Use reference_point=yes always together with a name=* tag!

Tag reference_point=yes in addition to any other relevant tags.

Example: The Little Tree would have the following tagging:


Only one value has been defined: reference_point=yes


Original proposal: Proposed_features/reference_point