The China Historical Geographic Information System, CHGIS, project was launched in January 2001 to establish a database of populated places and historical administrative units for the period of Chinese history between 221 BCE and 1911 CE. CHGIS provides a base GIS platform for researchers to use in spatial analysis, temporal statistical modeling, and representation of selected historical units as digital maps.
The CHGIS project has received major funding from:and additional assistance from:
The participating institutions have joined together to form CHGIS in order to create a new digital product for free distribution to scholars without restriction. The CHGIS management committee is responsible for the copyright of the published datasets, while each contributing institution retains the rights to further develop their own research materials as they see fit. The result is a no-cost GIS platform for use in teaching, research, and publications.
CHGIS users may obtain the data either by download from designated CHGIS websites, or on CD-ROM. Both the website and CD-ROM provide an account of the project and its development, the current CHGIS datasets, licensing information, and examples of how the data may be used.
There have been three versions of CHGIS data released (2002 - 2005), each successive version replacing the previous one. Further versions will be released until the base coverage of the following provinces has been completed--Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hebei, Henan, Heilongjiang, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Ningxia, Shandong, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang.
The following provinces lie outside the scope of the current project--Neimeng, Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Xizang.CHGIS Version 1.0, (published in Apr 2002), contained datasets for the year 1820 (Qing Dynasty). Following Version 1.0, the project has been working backwards to create a continuous time series of records that track changes in placename, administrative status, and geography, as well as forwards to create a dataset of 1911 counties. It should be noted that the data for the year 1820 CE is time slice valid for a single year, and is being slowly superceded and replaced by the time series data in subsequent versions. The Version 1.0 CD-ROM was published as a demonstration of the project's scope and objectives, and the 1820 data contained on that CD-ROM should be considered as a place-holder, rather than the fully documented CHGIS time series data released later versions. It should also be noted that Version 3, (published in Apr 2005) replaces Version 2 (published in Sep 2003).
The main objective of the CHGIS project is to create a flexible tool, in the form of a documented database of places and adminstrative units, which can be used to investigate any sort of geographically specific data related to China. The unique ID numbers for each of the CHGIS temporal instance records can be used as geocodes in relational databases, or to mark up texts, enabling users to import their own datasets into the CHGIS platform. Users will be able to associate their own data with CHGIS records, and then use the CHGIS database to sort, query, and display their data for different historical periods and at different levels of aggregation.