I have a KML file containing 5,000,000 places all around the world.

The big quantity of places makes it a pain to use in Google Earth, so I want to split it, one small file per country.

Bonus if tiny countries are grouped together, and huge countries like USA split into states.


  • Takes a KML file
  • Splits it into areas, I don't have to set up countries definitions myself
  • Produces KML files with a prefix+area filename, for instance mydata_Algeria.kml
  • Free
  • Webapps OK, visitors could choose the area they want, and download only that data

If splitting by countries is too difficult, splitting by latitudes/longitudes is OK too.


The easiest way to achieve this is to use a geographic information system (GIS). A free solution is QGIS in its current Version 2.18 (Version 3.0 will come out mid-October/November)

However, you would still need to use some programming when you want to meet your goal. In addition you would need a basic understanding of GIS.

A possible workflow without programming would be:

  • Load your KML file and a shapefile of the world countries
  • (optional): On the world countries file, Create a field which holds a grouping value
  • Select A country with the Select tool or with a expression like "my_field" = 'grouping value' be aware of the single and double quotation (double indicating a field name, while single is a string/text)
  • Use a tool "Select by location" under Vector -> Research tools
  • Right click on your *.kml file and choose "save as.."
  • In the new window, you can choose the file format and can tick the option "only Save selected features"
  • Name the file according to with your standards.

Another way would be to use the graphic modeler of QGIS or the python integration with pygis

  • Would I have to perform the last 5 steps for each country in the world? A solution that does all countries at once would be the best, especially if it can be called from command line. Thanks! – Nicolas Raoul Sep 5 '17 at 9:09
  • @NicolasRaoul There is certainly a way to automate this process but I would need some time to test it. When QGIS is installed, you have also the osgeo shell installed which comes with ogr2ogr. – LaughU Sep 5 '17 at 9:23

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