Geography plays an important role in Decennial Census Program activities. It is the framework by which the Census Bureau collects and publishes demographic, social, housing, and economic data. Geography contributes to, and is involved in sampling, data collection, weighting, and data tabulation activities.
The nation is subdivided into two main types of geographic areas, legal and statistical.
Legal areas are defined specifically by law, and include state, local and tribal government units, as well as some specially defined administrative areas like congressional districts. Many, but not all, are represented by elected officials. Example: New York State
Statistical areas are defined directly by the Census Bureau and state, regional or local authorities, and include census tracts and urban areas. The primary purpose of statistical areas is to tabulate and present census data. Example: Metropolitan Statistical area - "Boston-Cambridge-Quincy-MA-NH Metro area"
For more information on Geographic Areas, see Geographic Terms and Concepts.
Decennial Census of Population and Housing Reference Maps
Maps that show boundaries and names of geographic areas for which the Census Bureau tabulates statistical data, but which do not visualize data.
Decennial Census of Population and Housing Reference Files
Documents that list codes for geographic entities. These include Relationship files, Gazetteer files, Block Assignment Files, Tally Files, Listing Files, etc.
Decennial Census of Population and Housing Mapping Files
A way of putting geographical information into files. Files include Shapefiles (Partnership, TIGER/Line, Cartographic Boundary), KML and File Geodatabase files.