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    Basemaps

    How can I use NASA imagery?

    You can add NASA imagery as an external resource with the Change basemap option on a selected map. For details, see Including an external basemap.

    I have topographical maps in JPG and PDF formats. How can I convert these and add them as base layers on my map?

    You can use CARTO’s JavasScript library (CARTO.js), in combination with Leaflet, to create overlays with images. Learn more about CARTO.js from The Map Academy course and this Leaflet example.

    Tip: For a preview of all the Leaflet basemaps that are available, see the Leaflet-providers preview.

    Can I customize the preset basemaps?

    When clicking the Change basemap button from the MAP VIEW of the CARTO Editor, a selection of basemap options and providers (such as Stamen, Positron, Here and so on) appear. You can select any of these basemaps and apply them to your map.

    Note: The provided basemaps are not editable, you cannot customize features from these preset basemap options. You can, however, create your own custom basemap by adding data to your map, or importing your own custom basemap. For example, suppose you have Mapbox Studio Classic, you can upload this external basemap with the Add a custom basemap options as long as you have your Mapbox ID/URL and access token.

    Alternatively, you can apply an image as a tile background, in place of a basemap.

    • Select IMG from the Custom section of the Change basemap options

      The Select a pattern image dialog box appears.

    • Select the Upload file option to upload a file or a URL, as your tile background image

    How can I include external basemaps with the API?

    Basemaps can be added to any map layer that is created with CARTO.js and Leaflet by including the tile layer basemap url:

    var layer = L.tileLayer( 'http://{external provider url}/{z}/{x}/{y}.png', (

    Depending on how you are defining map layers, the external basemap provider url is included as part of other parameters, such as:

    • For static map layers, you can define basemap layers as a static image with the urlTemplate code

    • You may need to include proper citations if you are using external basemaps. This can be defined through the attributions code. Check the external providers documentation to confirm

    • If you are using an HTTP map layer to load a basemap with the MapConfig file, you can define the basemap parameters with the urlTemplate code

    • Note the https argument regarding basemap behavior through the cartodb.createVis options

    Tip: See Using basemaps with JavaScript for several code examples of external basemaps.