How to change the zoom-level display

I zoom out and no longer see county boundaries in America. How do I change the zoom-level for display of county boundaries so the boundaries show up at much greater heights/altitudes. Google earth has no zoom-level limit for county boundaries.


Assuming you are referring to the standard map on
There is no option to toggle on/off different features on different zoomlevels. The small images (tiles) are static pictures and only the display is dynamic.

If you need county borders on higher (or lower) zoomlevel you can either search for an alternative map supplier (didn’t find any by a quick Google-Search) or you need to create your own from OSM-Data.

I suggest OpenStreetMaps support a variable zoom-level-display for vectors. After all, somewhere in the code is a statement like this:
Could this be a feature addtion. It certainly should be a trivial change – however adding a human interface to zoom_level activation is a bit more complicated. I will note that ArcMap and QGIS have such a feature.

Thank you for your reply.

I don’t understand the meaning of this code, but please remember that OSM Carto (default style on is raster. We just hope that it can be vectorized eventually:

Raster? How can roads, railroads, political boundaries, lakes and all the geofeatures of the world be raster. I don’t know of a source to get raster copies of railroads in America nor any other country. Same for roads. Perhaps I should connect with the OSM development so I can learn a bit more about their work.

Thank you for your response.

The OSM data (roads, boundaries etc) are stored in a database, they are then used as a source for rendering raster tiles (images) with default map style called OSM Carto. You can read more about it here:

There are also many different styles around and some of them can produce vector tiles and render them, but none of them is available on the website.

It’s most certainly NOT a trivial change.

There is ‘openstreetmap’ as a database: that has the vector data, and you can select/export that data through services like overpass turbo, and save them as a shapefile or so.
There is also ‘openstreetmap’ as a map, which is, as others have said, raster data. There is one choice of styling rules that is rendered in one specific style, for everyone to look at / use.

Ideally, for a such purpose, you can combine the basemap as shown on and display additional vector data on top of it.
This can be done through GIS software (like ArcMap / QGis) where you load the tilelayer as background and use vector data on top of it, or through services like umap, mapcontrib, …

As a last resort, you can download the ‘database’ version of openstreetmap, and have your own go at creating rendering rules / styles on a GIS or tileserver level to create a version to perfectly suit your needs. All code for the default styling is readily available (in case you want to render tiles, that is), so you can easily work from that and adjust the zoom level settings for rendering to your desires.

Long story short: you can personalize it to a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge extent. However, you cannot expect everyone else to change because you think it’s simple enough. There’s endless discussions about how people think stuff should be shown, and it’s a delicate balancing act to keep it all together in an aesthetically pleasing map. Best way is to render them, based on the GIS data, on top of the tiles if you really need them at a given zoom scale.

In code terms it would be a simple change to make any one set of map tiles show more admin level detail at different zoom levels, but as Tim says getting everyone to agree what is best would be difficult (I’d certainly not be keen to see county-level detail at lower zooms!).

One thing that might help would be to overlay boundaries over existing tiles. I wrote a diary entry about that a while ago (see ) which might help.

I was under the apparently false impression that there were “layers” in OSM, some of which might be geo-referenced raster and some of which might be vector. I was also speaking of the currently implemented web interfaces for PC and mobile users. As you are pointing out, my understanding of how OSM is implemented is minimal or non-existent. I thank you for your response and explanation.