Python package for manipulation and analysis of features in the Cartesian plane
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Manipulation and analysis of geometric objects in the Cartesian plane.

Shapely is a BSD-licensed Python package for manipulation and analysis of planar geometric objects. It is based on the widely deployed GEOS (the engine of PostGIS) and JTS (from which GEOS is ported) libraries. Shapely is not concerned with data formats or coordinate systems, but can be readily integrated with packages that are. For more details, see:


Shapely 1.3 requires

  • Python >=2.6 (including Python 3.x)
  • libgeos_c >=3.1 (3.0 and below have not been tested, YMMV)


Windows users should use the executable installer, which contains the required GEOS DLL. Other users should acquire libgeos_c by any means, make sure that it is on the system library path, and install from the Python package index:

$ pip install Shapely

or from a source distribution with the setup script:

$ python install


Windows users: do not under any circumstances use pip (or easy_install) to uninstall Shapely versions < 1.2.17. Due to the way Shapely used to install its GEOS DLL and a distribute or setuptools bug, your Python installation may be broken by an uninstall command. Shapely 1.2.17 will uninstall safely.


Here is the canonical example of building an approximately circular patch by buffering a point:

>>> from shapely.geometry import Point
>>> patch = Point(0.0, 0.0).buffer(10.0)
>>> patch
<shapely.geometry.polygon.Polygon object at 0x...>
>>> patch.area

See the manual for comprehensive usage snippets and the and example apps.


Shapely does not read or write data files, but it can serialize and deserialize using several well known formats and protocols. The shapely.wkb and shapely.wkt modules provide dumpers and loaders inspired by Python's pickle module.:

>>> from shapely.wkt import dumps, loads
>>> dumps(loads('POINT (0 0)'))
'POINT (0.0000000000000000 0.0000000000000000)'

All linear objects, such as the rings of a polygon (like patch above), provide the Numpy array interface.:

>>> from numpy import asarray
>>> ag = asarray(patch.exterior)
>>> ag
array([[  1.00000000e+01,   0.00000000e+00],
       [  9.95184727e+00,  -9.80171403e-01],
       [  9.80785280e+00,  -1.95090322e+00],
       [  1.00000000e+01,   0.00000000e+00]])

That yields a Numpy array of [x, y] arrays. This is not always exactly what one wants for plotting shapes with Matplotlib (for example), so Shapely 1.2 adds a xy property for obtaining separate arrays of coordinate x and y values.:

>>> x, y = patch.exterior.xy
>>> ax = asarray(x)
>>> ax
array([  1.00000000e+01,   9.95184727e+00,   9.80785280e+00,  ...])

Numpy arrays can also be adapted to Shapely linestrings:

>>> from shapely.geometry import asLineString
>>> asLineString(ag).length
>>> asLineString(ag).wkt
'LINESTRING (10.0000000000000000 0.0000000000000000, ...)'

Shapely can also integrate with other Python GIS packages using data modeled after GeoJSON.

>>> import json
>>> from shapely.geometry import mapping, shape
>>> s = shape(json.loads('{"type": "Point", "coordinates": [0.0, 0.0]}'))
>>> s
<shapely.geometry.point.Point object at 0x...>
>>> print(json.dumps(mapping(s)))
{"type": "Point", "coordinates": [0.0, 0.0]}

Development and Testing

Dependencies for developing Shapely are listed in requirements-dev.txt. Cython and Numpy are not required for production installations, only for development. Use of a virtual environment is strongly recommended.:

$ virtualenv .
$ source bin/activate
(env)$ pip install -r requirements-dev.txt
(env)$ python develop

Shapely's suite of unittests and doctests, exercised via

(env)$ python test

Nosetests won't run the tests properly; Zope doctest suites are not currently supported well by nose.

Roadmap and Maintenance

Shapely 1.2.x is a maintenance-only branch which supports Python 2.4-2.6, but not Python 3+. There will be no new features in Shapely 1.2.x and only fixes for major bugs.

Shapely 1.3.x is a maintenance-only branch supporting Pythons 2.7 and 3+.

"Shapely 3000" is the name of the next milestone. New features will include vectorized operations, better integration with IPython Notebook, support for fixed precision models, and more. Less ctypes and more Cython is another theme in this branch. A 1.4 release should come out of this by Summer, 2014.


Please discuss Shapely with us at

Bugs may be reported at