Installing Python + GIS

How to start doing GIS with Python on your own computer?

Well, first you need to install Python and necessary Python modules that are used to perform various GIS-tasks. The purpose of this page is to help you out installing Python and all those modules into your own computer. Even though it is possible to install Python from their homepage, we highly recommend using Anaconda which is an open source distribution of the Python and R programming languages for large-scale data processing, predictive analytics, and scientific computing, that aims to simplify package management and deployment. In short, it makes life much easier when installing new tools on your Python to play with.

Install Python + GIS on Windows

Following steps have been tested to work on Windows 7 and 10 with Anaconda3 version 4.2.0 (19th November 2016).

Download Anaconda installer (64 bit) for Windows.

Install Anaconda to your computer by double clicking the installer and install it into a directory you want (needs admin rights). Install it to all users and use default settings.


Note for University of Helsinki workers: you need to set the installation location as C:\HYapp so that it can be used easily by anyone without the need to pass admin credentials all the time. If you don’t have C:\HYapp -folder, create one with admin rights.

Test that the Anaconda´s package manage called conda works by opening a command prompt as a admin user and running command conda --version.

Install GIS related packages with conda by running in command prompt following commands (in the same order as they are listed):

conda install -y psycopg2 matplotlib bokeh holoviews
conda install -y -c conda-forge basemap=1.0.8.dev0 --no-deps
conda install -y -c ioos geopandas=0.2.1
conda install -y -c conda-forge rasterio=1.0a3
conda install -y -c ioos iris=1.10.0
conda install -y -c ioam geoviews=1.1.0
conda install -y -c anaconda flake8=2.5.1
conda install -y -c conda-forge seawater
conda install -y -c conda-forge gpxpy=1.1.1
conda install -y -c ioos gdal=2.1.2

# Following one will be installed using pip as we want to install the
# development version of the folium module with more features

pip install

Let’s also upgrade few packages:

conda upgrade spyder pandas scipy

Install Python + GIS on Linux / Mac

The following have been tested on Ubuntu 16.04. Might work also on Mac (not tested yet).

Install Anaconda 3 and add it to system path

# Download and install Anaconda
sudo wget
sudo bash

# Add Anaconda installation permanently to PATH variable
nano ~/.bashrc

# Add following line at the end of the file and save (EDIT ACCORDING YOUR INSTALLATION PATH)
export PATH=$PATH:/PATH_TO_ANACONDA/anaconda3/bin:/PATH_TO_ANACONDA/anaconda3/lib/python3.5/site-packages

Install Python packages

conda install numpy pandas scipy gdal fiona shapely pyproj psycopg2 matplotlib bokeh holoviews sphinx
conda install -y -c conda-forge geopandas
conda install -y -c conda-forge basemap=1.0.8.dev0 --no-deps
conda install -y -c activisiongamescience tweepy=3.5.0
conda install -y -c anaconda rasterio=0.36.0
conda install -y -c scitools/label/dev -c conda-forge iris cartopy
conda install -y xarray
conda install -y -c ioam geoviews=1.1.0
conda install -y -c ioos mplleaflet=0.0.5
conda install -y -c anaconda flake8=2.5.1
conda install -y -c conda-forge seawater
conda install -y -c conda-forge gpxpy=1.1.1
conda install -y -c conda-forge branca=0.1.2
pip install

How to find out which conda -command to use when installing a package?

The easiest way

The first thing to try when installing a new module X is to run in a command prompt (as admin) following command (here we try to install a hypothetical module called X)

conda install X

In most cases this approach works but sometimes you get errors like (example when installing a module called shapely):

C:\WINDOWS\system32>conda install shapely
Using Anaconda API:
Fetching package metadata .........
Solving package specifications: .
Error: Package missing in current win-64 channels:
  - shapely

You can search for packages on with

    anaconda search -t conda shapely

Okey, so conda couldn’t find the shapely module from the typical channel it uses for downloading the module.

Alternative way to install if typical doesn’t work

How to find a way to install a module if it cannot be installed on a typical way? Well, the answer is the same is in many other cases nowadays, Google it!

Let’s find our way to install the Shapely module by typing following query to Google:


Okey, we have different pages showing how to install Shapely using conda package manager.

Which one of them is the correct one to use?

We need to check the operating system banners and if you find a logo of the operating system of your computer, that is the one to use! Thus, in our case the first page that Google gives does not work in Windows but the second one does, as it has Windows logo on it:


From here we can get the correct installation command for conda and it works!


You can follow these steps similarly for all of the other Python modules that you are interested to install.