From scientific fields like meteorology and climatology, through to the software on our smartphones like Google Maps and Facebook check-ins, geographic data is always present in our everyday lives. Raw geographic data like latitudes and longitudes are difficult to understand using the data charts and plots we've discussed so far. To explore this kind of data, you'll need to learn how to visualize the data on maps.

In this lesson, we'll explore the fundamentals of geographic coordinate systems and how to work with the Basemap library to plot geographic data points on maps. We'll be working with flight data from the Openflights website to understand which destination airport is the most common as well as which cities are the most important hubs for airports and airlines.

As you go through this lesson as well as every lesson at Dataquest, you will be given an opportunity to practice your skills with our interactive code editor with built-in answer checking to ensure you have completely mastered each concept before moving on to the next.

Upon completion of this lesson, you will have completed the storytelling through data visualization course. If you've spent time understanding each concept before moving onto the next, you should have a solid foundation in data visualization for exploring data and communicating insights.


  • Learn how to visualize geographic data.
  • Learn how to display geographic data on a world map.

Lesson Outline

1. Geographic Data
2. Geographic Coordinate Systems
3. Installing Basemap
4. Workflow With Basemap
5. Converting From Spherical to Cartesian Coordinates
6. Generating A Scatter Plot
7. Customizing The Plot Using Basemap
8. Customizing The Plot Using Matplotlib
9. Introduction to Great Circles
10. Displaying Great Circles
11. Conclusion
12. Takeaways