Harmonised world soil database

30 arc-second grid database with over 16,000 different soil mapping units that combines existing regional and national updates of soil information worldwide (SOTER, ESD, Soil Map of China, WISE) with the information contained within the 1:5,000,000 scale FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World (FAO, 1971-1981). The resulting raster database consists of 21600 rows and 43200 columns, which are linked to harmonized soil property data. The use of a standardized structure allows for the linkage of the attribute data with the raster map to display or query the composition in terms of soil units and the characterization of selected soil parameters (organic Carbon, pH, water storage capacity, soil depth, cation exchange capacity of the soil and the clay fraction, total exchangeable nutrients, lime and gypsum contents, sodium exchange percentage, salinity, textural class and granulometry).

Publication date: 2008-06-01


Study area
Temporal extent
1950-01-01    to    2003-12-03

Provenance & quality

The data set's lineage is described in: FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISSCAS/JRC 2012. Harmonized World Soil Database (version 1.2), Prepared by Nachtergaele FO, van Velthuizen H, Verelst L and Wiberg D. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), ISRIC - World Soil Information, Institute of Soil Science - Chinese Academy of Sciences (IISCAS), Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC), Laxenburg, Austria (http://webarchive.iiasa.ac.at/Research/LUC/External-World-soil-database/HWSD_Documentation.pdf).
Reliability of the information contained in the database is variable: the parts of the database that still make use of the Soil Map of the World such as North America, Australia, West Africa and South Asia are considered less reliable, while most of the areas covered by SOTER databases are considered to have the highest reliability (Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe).

Other contacts

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)


Spatial representation type
Spatial reference system


Topic categories
Geoscientific Information
Geospatial / Map National Soil Tabular