The term shapefile is a little misleading - yes, there’s usually a
.shp file that’s the guts of the shapefile, but a proper shapefile comes zipped up with all sorts of friends.
Here’s a partial list:
.shpis the geometry for the data - polygons, points, you name it.
.prjis the projection used, as latitude and longitude don’t quite cut it in the GIS world.
.dbfis the data associated with each point, line polygon. Think state names, population data, or the year a house was built.
.shxis an index file for the
.shp’s geometry (a.k.a. helps speed things up)
.shp.xmlis “geospatial metadata in XML format,” but I don’t know what exactly follows from it
There are many more, but the ones above are the ones you’ll see most often. They know they’re related because they all share the same name. Let’s say I was trying to get a shapefile for the united states, I might have
United_States.zip, which extracts to contain