Vector data formats are used for the representation of line-shaped geo-spatial structures, such as coast lines and contours. They are also well suited for man-made structures like building outlines, roads, pipelines, power lines and other man-made areas or points of interest.

The largest free collection of world-wide vector data is the so called Digital Chart of the World (DCW). While being developed initially by US military agencies as classified data, a former version of the data has been made publicly available as the so called Vector Smart Map.

Various geographic and man-made layers are available at different levels of detail. Level 0, which is known as VMAP0 is in the public domain. While it is a comprehensive collection of world-wide data, the latest updates stem from the 1990’s.