AfricaMap / WorldMap Project

Developed by: Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA)
Principal Investigators: Suzanne Preston Blier and Peter BolSystem Architect/Project Manager: Ben Lewis


The goal of WorldMap is to lower barriers for scholars who wish to visualize, analyze, organize, present, and publish mapped information.

AfricaMap ( was the first application created using the WorldMap platform, and is still one of the richest in content. There are now thousands of additional maps (of Africa and the African diasporas as well as on other subjects or geographies) created by scholars at Harvard and around the world.

WorldMap is open source software and an instance is hosted at Harvard, free for researchers anywhere in the world to use. The system allows users to upload their own data and create sophisticated interactive maps in the cloud to support research and teaching.

Since WorldMap began in 2012, more than a million people have used the system, initiating thousands of research studies, and in the process, making many thousands of new map layers available to Harvard scholars. It is being used in a growing number of classes at Harvard, as well as at other universities globally.

Recent and ongoing developments in the WorldMap universe include development of a map data gathering and exploration tool which will provide access to hundreds of thousands of map layers on systems outside WorldMap for use inside WorldMap. This work was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, WorldMap is being more tightly integrated with Harvard Dataverse, making it possible for social scientists and others to more easily visualize their data geographically.

WorldMap has received generous funding from the Hutchins Center, the Department of African and African American Studies, the Center for African Studies, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Reischauer Institute, the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund, Cornell University, Amazon, and other programs and organizations within and beyond Harvard.

Projects are currently underway with Zhejiang University in China to build the Chinese Academic Mapping Platform and with Ritsumeikan University in Japan to build the Japanese Old Maps Portal. WorldMap is now hosted by the generous folks at Massachusetts Open Cloud, based at Boston University.