What Is a Geometry Data Type?


Larry Thompson

What Is a Geometry Data Type?

Geometry data types are an essential part of spatial databases and GIS (Geographic Information System) applications. They allow you to store and manipulate geometric shapes such as points, lines, and polygons.

In this article, we will explore what a geometry data type is and how it can be used in web development.

Understanding Geometry Data Types

A geometry data type represents a set of geometric objects that can be stored in a database. These objects can include points, lines, polygons, and more complex shapes like curves or surfaces.

Each object is defined by its spatial coordinates and can have various attributes associated with it.

Geometry data types are typically used in GIS applications to represent real-world objects such as buildings, roads, or natural features like rivers or forests. By storing these objects as geometric shapes with associated attributes, you can perform spatial queries and analysis on the data.

Common Geometry Data Types

There are several common geometry data types that you may encounter when working with spatial databases:

  • Point: Represents a single point in space defined by its x, y, and optionally z coordinates.
  • Line: Represents a sequence of connected points.
  • Polygon: Represents an enclosed area defined by a sequence of connected points.
  • MultiPoint: Represents a collection of points.
  • MultiLine: Represents a collection of lines.
  • MultiPolygon: Represents a collection of polygons.

These geometry types provide flexibility for representing different spatial features and can be combined to create more complex objects.

Working with Geometry Data Types

To work with geometry data types, you need a database that supports spatial data and a programming language or framework that provides APIs for manipulating these types. Popular databases like PostgreSQL with the PostGIS extension or MySQL with the Spatial Extensions offer robust support for geometry data types.

In web development, you can use libraries such as Leaflet or Mapbox GL JS to visualize and interact with geometry data on maps. These libraries provide powerful tools for rendering spatial data on web pages and adding interactivity like zooming, panning, and highlighting.

Example: Storing and Querying Geometry Data

Let’s consider an example where we have a database table called “cities” that stores the location of various cities as points. The table has columns for city name, population, and coordinates.

We can store the cities’ coordinates as geometry data type in the form of points.

  name VARCHAR(100),
  population INTEGER,
  location GEOMETRY(Point)

To query this table, we can use SQL statements along with spatial functions provided by the database. For instance, we can find all cities within a certain distance from a given point:

SELECT name FROM cities
  ST_GeomFromText('POINT(-122.4194 37.7749)', 4326),

This query will return the names of all cities within a radius of 5000 meters from the specified point (coordinates for San Francisco).


Geometry data types are powerful tools for representing and manipulating spatial data. They allow you to store and query geometric objects in a database, opening up possibilities for spatial analysis and visualization in web development.

By understanding the different geometry data types and their usage, you can leverage these capabilities to create more engaging and interactive applications.

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