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Installing Spatialite

SpatiaLite adds spatial support to SQLite, turning it into a full-featured spatial database.

Check first if you can install Spatialite from system packages or binaries. For example, on Debian-based distributions, try to install the spatialite-bin package. For Mac OS X, follow the specific instructions below. For Windows, you may find binaries on Gaia-SINS home page. In any case, you should always be able to install from source.

When you are done with the installation process, skip to Creating a spatial database for SpatiaLite.

Installing from source

GEOS and PROJ.4 should be installed prior to building SpatiaLite.


Check first if SQLite is compiled with the R*Tree module. Run the sqlite3 command line interface and enter the following query:

sqlite> CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE testrtree USING rtree(id,minX,maxX,minY,maxY);

If you obtain an error, you will have to recompile SQLite from source. Otherwise, just skip this section.

To install from sources, download the latest amalgamation source archive from the SQLite download page, and extract:

$ wget http://sqlite.org/sqlite-amalgamation-
$ tar xzf sqlite-amalgamation-
$ cd sqlite-

Next, run the configure script – however the CFLAGS environment variable needs to be customized so that SQLite knows to build the R*Tree module:

$ make
$ sudo make install
$ cd ..

SpatiaLite library (libspatialite)

Get the latest SpatiaLite library source bundle from the download page:

$ wget http://www.gaia-gis.it/gaia-sins/libspatialite-sources/libspatialite-4.1.0.tar.gz
$ tar xaf libspatialite-4.1.0.tar.gz
$ cd libspatialite-4.1.0
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install


For Mac OS X users building from source, the SpatiaLite library and tools need to have their target configured:

$ ./configure --target=macosx


If you’ve decided to use a newer version of pysqlite2 instead of the sqlite3 Python stdlib module, then you need to make sure it can load external extensions (i.e. the required enable_load_extension method is available so SpatiaLite can be loaded).

This might involve building it yourself. For this, download pysqlite2 2.6, and untar:

$ wget https://pypi.python.org/packages/source/p/pysqlite/pysqlite-2.6.3.tar.gz
$ tar xzf pysqlite-2.6.3.tar.gz
$ cd pysqlite-2.6.3

Next, use a text editor to edit the setup.cfg file to look like the following:


or if you are on Mac OS X:



The important thing here is to make sure you comment out the define=SQLITE_OMIT_LOAD_EXTENSION flag and that the include_dirs and library_dirs settings are uncommented and set to the appropriate path if the SQLite header files and libraries are not in /usr/include and /usr/lib, respectively.

After modifying setup.cfg appropriately, then run the setup.py script to build and install:

$ python setup.py install

Mac OS X-specific instructions

To install the SpatiaLite library and tools, Mac OS X users can choose between KyngChaos packages and Homebrew.


First, follow the instructions in the KyngChaos packages section.

When Creating a spatial database for SpatiaLite, the spatialite program is required. However, instead of attempting to compile the SpatiaLite tools from source, download the SpatiaLite Binaries for OS X, and install spatialite in a location available in your PATH. For example:

$ curl -O http://www.gaia-gis.it/spatialite/spatialite-tools-osx-x86-2.3.1.tar.gz
$ tar xzf spatialite-tools-osx-x86-2.3.1.tar.gz
$ cd spatialite-tools-osx-x86-2.3.1/bin
$ sudo cp spatialite /Library/Frameworks/SQLite3.framework/Programs

Finally, for GeoDjango to be able to find the KyngChaos SpatiaLite library, add the following to your settings.py:



Homebrew handles all the SpatiaLite related packages on your behalf, including SQLite3, SpatiaLite, PROJ, and GEOS. Install them like this:

$ brew update
$ brew install spatialite-tools
$ brew install gdal

Finally, for GeoDjango to be able to find the SpatiaLite library, add the following to your settings.py:


Creating a spatial database for SpatiaLite

When running manage.py migrate with a SQLite or SpatiaLite database, the database file will be automatically created if it doesn’t exist. Django will also ensure that the spatial metadata are initialized in the database.

Changed in Django 1.8:

Prior to Django 1.8, you had to initialize spatial metadata tables yourself by manually running the “SELECT InitSpatialMetaData();” query.

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