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R has many powerful libraries to handle spatial data, and the things that R can do with maps can only grow. This exercise tries to demonstrate a few basic functionalities of R while dealing with shapefiles.

A shapefile is a simple, nontopological format for storing the geometric location and attribute information of geographic features. Geographic features in a shapefile can be represented by points, lines, or polygons (ESRI). The geographic features are associated with an attribute table which is very similar to an R dataframe.

The rgdal package in R provides bindings to the popular Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (GDAL) for reading, writing and converting between spatial formats. We are using a very popular dataset of London sports participation shapefile (download here). The attributes  Pop_2001  and  Partic_Per  represents the population of London Boroughs in 2001 and the percentage of the population participating in sporting activities.

Answers to the exercises are available here. If you obtained a different (correct) answer than those listed on the solutions page, please feel free to post your answer as a comment on that page.

Please install and load the package  rgdal  before starting the exercises.

Exercise 1
Read the London Sports map from the shapefile  london_sports.shp .

Exercise 2
Change the coordinate system of the map to WGS 84.

Exercise 3
Find the names of the zones where sports participation rates is more than 25%.

Exercise 4
Plot the london map in Sky Blue, along with a title.

Exercise 5
Plot the zones in London with Sports Participation Rates less than 15% in red. Retain the earlier blue color for other zones.

Exercise 6
Plot the zones in London with Sports Participation Rates more than 25% in green. Retain the earlier color for other zones.

Exercise 7
Place a black circle marker at the centre of each zone. Retain previous maps.

Exercise 8
Put labels for each zone. Place the labels to the right of the black marker.

Exercise 9
Add another categorical attribute  sports_part  which has values  "low", "medium" and "high"  for sports participation rates less than equal to 15%, between 15 to 25% and greater than 25% respectively.

Exercise 10
Save the new map object with modified attribute table as a new shapefile “london_sport2.shp”.