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A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing geographic phenomenon that exist, and events that occur, on Earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information systems and make it valuable to a wide range of public and private enterprises for explaining events, predicting outcomes, and planning strategies. Map making and geographic analysis are not new, but a GIS performs these tasks faster and with more sophistication than do traditional manual methods.

Today, GIS is a multi-billion-dollar industry employing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. GIS is taught in schools, colleges, and universities throughout the world. Professionals and domain specialists in every discipline are become increasingly aware of the advantages of using GIS technology for addressing their unique spatial problems.

We commonly think of a GIS as a single, well-defined, integrated computer system. However, this is not always the case. A GIS can be made up of a variety of software and hardware tools. The important factor is the level of integration of these tools to provide a smoothly operating, fully functional geographic data processing environment.

Overall, GIS should be viewed as a technology, not simply as a computer system.

In general, a GIS provides facilities for data capture, data management, data manipulation and analysis, and the presentation of results in both graphic and report form, with a particular emphasis upon preserving and utilizing inherent characteristics of spatial data.

The ability to incorporate spatial data, manage it, analyze it, and answer spatial questions is the distinctive characteristic of geographic information systems.

A geographic information system, commonly referred to as a GIS, is an integrated set of hardware and software tools used for the manipulation and management of digital spatial (geographic) and related attribute data.