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
$ 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) and tools (spatialite)

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

$ wget
$ wget
$ tar xzf libspatialite-amalgamation-2.4.0-5.tar.gz
$ tar xzf spatialite-tools-2.4.0-5.tar.gz

Prior to attempting to build, please read the important notes below to see if customization of the configure command is necessary. If not, then run the configure script, make, and install for the SpatiaLite library:

$ cd libspatialite-amalgamation-2.3.1
$ ./configure # May need to be modified, see notes below.
$ make
$ sudo make install
$ cd ..

Finally, do the same for the SpatiaLite tools:

$ cd spatialite-tools-2.3.1
$ ./configure # May need to be modified, see notes below.
$ make
$ sudo make install
$ cd ..


If you’ve installed GEOS and PROJ.4 from binary packages, you will have to specify their paths when running the configure scripts for both the library and the tools (the configure scripts look, by default, in /usr/local). For example, on Debian/Ubuntu distributions that have GEOS and PROJ.4 packages, the command would be:

$ ./configure --with-proj-include=/usr/include --with-proj-lib=/usr/lib --with-geos-include=/usr/include --with-geos-lib=/usr/lib


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
$ 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 script to build and install:

$ sudo python 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
$ 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



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


Creating a spatial database for SpatiaLite

After you’ve installed SpatiaLite, you’ll need to create a number of spatial metadata tables in your database in order to perform spatial queries.

If you’re using SpatiaLite 2.4 or newer, use the spatialite utility to call the InitSpatialMetaData() function, like this:

$ spatialite geodjango.db "SELECT InitSpatialMetaData();"
the SPATIAL_REF_SYS table already contains some row(s)
 InitSpatiaMetaData ()error:"table spatial_ref_sys already exists"

You can safely ignore the error messages shown. When you’ve done this, you can skip the rest of this section.

If you’re using SpatiaLite 2.3, you’ll need to download a database-initialization file and execute its SQL queries in your database.

First, get it from the SpatiaLite Resources page:

$ wget
$ gunzip init_spatialite-2.3.sql.gz

Then, use the spatialite command to initialize a spatial database:

$ spatialite geodjango.db < init_spatialite-2.3.sql


The parameter geodjango.db is the filename of the SQLite database you want to use. Use the same in the DATABASES "name" key inside your


When running migrate with a SQLite (or SpatiaLite) database, the database file will be automatically created if it doesn’t exist. In this case, if your models contain any geometry columns, you’ll see this error:

CreateSpatialIndex() error: "no such table: geometry_columns"

It’s because the table creation queries are executed without spatial metadata tables. To avoid this, make the database file before executing migrate as described above.