I'm looking for a current map of Sierra Leone provinces (admin 1 level). One province split in 2017, making a total of 5, but I can only find files with 4 provinces.

I've checked humdata, DIVA-GIS, and GADM, and they're all out-of-date . As far as I can tell, there isn't a way to have only admin borders on the OpenStreetMap/Geofabrik data set.

Alternately, is there any workaround? I don't need much, just the polygons for the provinces. This is for use in a scientific manuscript. Ultimately, I want to import it into R and add data to it. Thanks!

1 Answer 1


Let's try to find the boundaries within OSM data :).


bbox <- matrix(data = c(6.9, -14, 10, -10), nrow = 2, ncol = 2)

boundaries <- opq(bbox, timeout = 240) |>
  add_osm_feature (key = "boundary", value = "administrative") |>

boundary=administrative is the key to look for. You can add another condition here like admin_level=4 as main provinces are on level 4, however we will use other level for the whole country as well.

sl <- boundaries$osm_multipolygons |>
  subset(admin_level == 2 & name == "Sierra Leone") |>
  subset(select = c(osm_id, name))

sl |>
  sf::st_geometry() |>
  plot(col = "lightblue")

enter image description here

Now, let's filter out the provinces:

provinces <- boundaries$osm_multipolygons |>
  subset(admin_level == 4)

and restrict only to those, which are within Sierra Leone

provinces <- provinces |>
  subset(apply(sf::st_within(provinces, sl, sparse = FALSE), 1, any)) |>
  subset(select = c(osm_id, name))

provinces |>
  sf::st_geometry() |>
  plot(col = RColorBrewer::brewer.pal(5,"Greens"), add = TRUE)

enter image description here

Hope it helps :).

  • Wow, thank you so much for your answer! Only thing is, this overloads my CPU and crashes my R session right at the beginning, when making the boundaries object. Maybe it would help if the data could be subset to Sierra Leone in the beginning?
    – ABW
    Sep 27 at 18:54
  • Try download.geofabrik.de/africa.html, there is a shp.zip. I would expect boundaries are there. Otherwise download pbf file and read the data with osmextract package. Sep 27 at 19:07
  • I meant, the file for Sierra Leone from geofabrik :). In the above example the data are subset to Sierra Leone by bounding box, however the nature of overpass is, it returns a bunch of other boundaries as well (those which intersects with bbox). Sep 27 at 19:16

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