HWSD dataset information page

Short Description

Harmonized World Soil Database

Statement: Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD)

Abstract: The HWSD is a 30 arc-second raster database with over 16000 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, 19711981).

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).

26 March, 2009 - Version 1.1 now includes SOTER/SOTWIS data for The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Senegal, and Gambia.

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 (Central and Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe).

Data format

Data type: Surface properties
Data origin: Measured
Data format: BIL
Other format:
Data resolution: 30 arc second (~1km)

Data Coverage

Spatial data coverage: Global
Temporal data coverage: Time snap shot
Time period covered:


Download data:
Data source:


  • FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISSCAS/JRC, 2009. Harmonized World Soil Database (version 1.1). FAO, Rome, Italy and IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria.