Census Bureau

TIGER® Overview

What Does The Name TIGER® Mean?

The term TIGER® comes from the acronym Topographically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing which is the name for the system and digital data base developed at the Census Bureau to support its mapping needs for the Decennial Census and other Bureau programs.

What Is TIGER®?

The Census Bureau's TIGER® System automates the mapping and related geographic activities required to support the decennial census and sample survey programs of the Census Bureau starting with the 1990 decennial census. The TIGER® System provides support for the following:

The design of the TIGER® data base adapts the theories of topology, graph theory, and associated fields of mathematics to provide a disciplined, mathematical description for the geographic structure of the United States and its territories. The topological structure of the TIGER® data base defines the location and relationship of streets, rivers, railroads, and other features to each other and to the numerous geographic entities for which the Census Bureau tabulates data from its censuses and sample surveys. It is designed to assure no duplication of these features or areas.

The building of the TIGER® data base integrated a variety of encoding techniques such as automated map scanning, manual map "digitizing," standard data keying, and sophisticated computer file matching. The goal was to provide automated access to and retrieval of relevant geographic information about the United States and its territories.

TIGER® Data Base Extracts

In order for others to use the information in the TIGER® data base in a geographic information system (GIS) or for other geographic applications, the Census Bureau releases periodic extracts of this data base to the public, these extracts are known as the TIGER/Line® files. The most recent version is TIGER/Line® 1995.

Census Bureau Feedback

  Last Revised: Friday, 11-Apr-97 13:17:01