What Is Spatial Data Type in MySQL?


Scott Campbell

In MySQL, the spatial data type is a powerful feature that allows you to store and manipulate spatial data, such as points, lines, and polygons. This data type enables you to perform various spatial operations, such as distance calculations, intersection checks, and area calculations.

What is Spatial Data?

Spatial data refers to data that represents objects or locations in space. It includes information about the geometric shape and position of these objects or locations. For example, a point represents a single location in space, while a polygon represents an enclosed area with multiple vertices.

Why Use Spatial Data?

Spatial data is commonly used in applications that deal with mapping, geolocation, and geographic information systems (GIS). It allows you to store and analyze real-world features like cities, roads, rivers, buildings, and more.

Spatial Indexing: One of the main advantages of using spatial data types in MySQL is the ability to create spatial indexes on these columns. Spatial indexes improve query performance by allowing efficient retrieval of relevant spatial data based on proximity or other criteria.

Types of Spatial Data Types

MySQL provides several spatial types for storing different kinds of spatial data:

  • POINT: Represents a single point in space defined by its X and Y coordinates.
  • LINESTRING: Represents a sequence of points connected by straight line segments.
  • POLYGON: Represents a closed shape with three or more vertices that form straight line segments.
  • MULTIPOINT: Represents multiple points stored together as a collection.
  • MULTILINESTRING: Represents multiple line strings stored together as a collection.
  • MULTIPOLYGON: Represents multiple polygons stored together as a collection.

Using Spatial Data Types

To store spatial data in MySQL, you need to define a column with one of the spatial data types mentioned above. For example, to create a table with a POINT column, you can use the following syntax:

CREATE TABLE locations (
    name VARCHAR(255),
    coordinates POINT

Once you have created the table, you can insert spatial data into it using the appropriate SQL statements or functions. For example, to insert a point into the “coordinates” column, you can use the following statement:

INSERT INTO locations (name, coordinates)
VALUES ('New York', POINT(40.7128, -74.0060));

Spatial Functions: MySQL provides a set of built-in functions for performing spatial operations on spatial data. These functions allow you to perform tasks like calculating distances between points, checking if two geometries intersect, finding the area of polygons, and more.

Spatial Queries: You can also write SQL queries that involve spatial data types and functions. These queries allow you to retrieve specific spatial data based on criteria like proximity or containment within an area.


In conclusion, spatial data types in MySQL provide a powerful way to store and manipulate spatial data. By leveraging these types and their associated functions and queries, you can build applications that deal with mapping, geolocation analysis, and other GIS-related tasks.

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