The other day, I posted an introductory demo to mapping in R using some of the built-in maps. But of course there are only a few regions represented in the “maps” package: the US states, the US as a whole, Italy, France, and the world. Even then, there are some limitations to these: for instance, the USSR is still alive and kicking in the world of “maps.” If you are living in the 21st century–or working somewhere other than these locations–you may want to supply your own, more updated maps. The most popular filetype is, of course, the GIS shapefile. But to access, visualize, manipulate, and plot on shapefiles, it was formerly necessary to use ArcGIS, which is proprietary and thus costly. I’ll show you how to do it all in R!