Load geo data

This post shows how to build a choropleth map for US counties. County border coordinates have been found here and stored on github here. Let's load this data stored at geojson format with geopandas, and draw a map with it thanks to geoplot.

# Import the geopandas and geoplot libraries
import geopandas as gpd
import geoplot.crs as gcrs
import geoplot as gplt
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Load the json file with county coordinates
geoData = gpd.read_file(

# Make sure the "id" column is an integer
geoData.id = geoData['id'].astype(int)

# Remove Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
statesToRemove = ['02', '15', '72']
geoData = geoData[~geoData.STATE.isin(statesToRemove)]

# Basic plot with just county outlines

Note: if you need more explanation on this step, there is this dedicated post. More generally, have a look to the background map section of the python graph gallery.

Load numeric data

A choropleth map shows the distribution of a numeric variable on each items of a map. Let's consider the unemployment rate of each US county. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found here and stored here.

We load it directly in python using the following code:

# library
import pandas as pd
import seaborn as sns
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Read file
data = pd.read_csv(

# Show the distribution of unemployment rate

Merge spatial & numeric data

Both source of information need to be merged in order to be represented on the same figure. This can be done thanks to the merge() function.

fullData = geoData.merge(
    left_on=['id'],  # identifier from geodataframe
    right_on=['id']  # identifier from dataframe
id GEO_ID STATE COUNTY NAME LSAD CENSUSAREA geometry state county rate
0 1001 0500000US01001 01 001 Autauga County 594.436 POLYGON ((-86.49677 32.34444, -86.71790 32.402... Alabama Autauga County 5.1
1 1009 0500000US01009 01 009 Blount County 644.776 POLYGON ((-86.57780 33.76532, -86.75914 33.840... Alabama Blount County 5.1
2 1017 0500000US01017 01 017 Chambers County 596.531 POLYGON ((-85.18413 32.87053, -85.12342 32.772... Alabama Chambers County 5.0

Choropleth map with GeoPlot

Now, the choropleth() function of the geoplot library allows to build the choropleth pretty easily. The hue parameter expects the name of the column we want to use to control the color of each county.

The hardest part is probably to pick the right type of color palette. Geoplot comes with both continuous and categorical binning schemes, i.e. methods that split a sequence of observations into some number of bins.

import cartopy.crs as ccrs
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# for color mapping with 10 different colors
import mapclassify as mc
scheme = mc.Quantiles(fullData['rate'], k=10)

# Map
    scheme=scheme, cmap='inferno_r',
    figsize=(12, 8)


Going further

This post explains how to create a choropleth map in python.

You might be interested in:

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