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Geographic Reference

Understanding Census Bureau Geography
This resource provides definitions of geographic terms and concepts. It also provides links to the urban/rural classification; county adjacency file; zip code tabulation areas; and some reference files associated with the 1990 and 2000 census.

Metro Definitions
Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas are defined by OMB. These standards for defining the areas are revised once every ten years, prior to each decennial census. Between censuses, the definitions are updated to reflect the most recent population estimates.

Users often need to know historical metro area definitions. These are available here, whereas the current definitions are here.

PUMA Defintions
This provides a definition of the composition of Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs). The resource also provides links to maps of PUMAs. Here is a link to ASCII versions of PUMA Equivalency Files from 1990 - 2000.

New PUMAs will be defined based on the 2010 Census. These will be available (with shapefiles) in Fall 2012. The guidelines for the definitions have changed. See overview for more information.

Rural-Urban Continuum Codes
Rural-Urban Continuum Codes form a classification scheme that distinguishes metropolitan (metro) counties by the population size of their metro area, and nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) counties by degree of urbanization and adjacency to a metro area or areas.

Census Bureau Map Products: Reference Maps
This resource provides pdf links to state, county, census tract, block, school district, etc. maps.

Census Bureau Map Products: Thematic Maps
This resource provides pdf links to thematic maps of the US and states. There is also a map gallarey to view a sample of past publication maps.

American Community Survey Reference Maps
This resource shows which counties are published in the ACS files (1-year) or (3-year). This information is available for each year of the ACS as the population of a county is what drives inclusion in the ACS products (20,000/65,000+).

Federal Financial Institutions Examination Councile (FFIEC) Geocoding System
Find census tract numbers for residential street addresses. Once the geographies are listed, one can create a map with the boundaries, e.g., county, county subdivision, census tract, block group, block, etc. One can also bring up selected data associated with the location.