At the whole Earth extent, a GIS layer of the world countries is available. At the European extent, users can choose between two layers of different resolution: countries and provinces.
GIS layers of administrative units with different types of aggregation proposed by the Taxonomic Databases Working Group (TDWG, http://www.tdwg.org/standards/109/) are also included. In this case, administrative units, such as provinces, states and countries, are grouped in higher units hierarchically according to biogeographical criteria (Brummitt, R.K., 2001, World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, Edition 2, August 2001. International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases For Plant Sciences - TDWG.).
At the maximum resolution (Level 4, Basic Recording Units), most units corresponds to political countries (ISO units). When a country is both too large and too botanically diverse to be treated as one unit, it has been subdivided along internal political (state or province) boundaries. Countries here subdivided for this reason are U.S.S.R., U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, India, China and Australia.
At the Level 3 (Botanical Countries), smaller countries are joined into higher units (for example, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania constitute together one unit at this level), and for Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, India and China, aggregations of constituent states are adopted. In other large countries (U.S.S.R., U.S.A., Canada and Australia) the units at this level are the same as at level 4.
At the Level 2 (Regions), smaller units are grouped again in higher units. Aggregations of constituent states or provinces are adopted for U.S.S.R., U.S.A. and Canada, while other large countries such as Mexico, Brasil and Australia are treated as individual units at this level.
At the Level 1 (Continents), the last aggregation of units results in only 9 units: Europe, Africa, Asia-Temperate, Asia-Tropical, Australasia, Pacific, Northern America, Southern America and Antarctic.
Administrative units exist only for terrestrial areas.
GIS layers in the EDIT geoplatform are all in geodetic coordinates (longitude, latitude), datum WGS84.
Data can be downloaded in two different vector formats: Idrisi and ESRI shape. In some cases, you can also view the maps with your internet browser directly, thanks to a Web Map Service (WMS).