I am using GeoGraphics to visualize electricity distribution networks in certain countries. I have susbtation location data, as well as network incidence matrices (i.e. which substations are connected to each other). From this I simply create a list of transmission lines by creating pairs of substations and putting it into a Line wrapper.

Line[{GeoPosition[{21.0112, 105.808, 0}],GeoPosition[{13.9719, 108.015, 0}]}]

In some cases though, a straight line will go through another country, or even worse over the ocean. For example, here in Vietnam.

GeoGraphics[{Line[{GeoPosition[{21.0112, 105.808, 0}], GeoPosition[{13.9719, 108.015, 0}]}], Polygon[Entity["Country", "Vietnam"]]}]

enter image description here

So my question is : How can I make a "straight" or shortest path that stays within a country? (or at least doesn't go over oceans!)

I have tried adapting this to my case but can't get it to work.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Not the fastest path but quite short solution: GeoGraphics@ TravelDirections[{GeoPosition[{21.0112, 105.808}], GeoPosition[{13.9719, 108.015}]}]["TravelPath"] $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Jan 19, 2016 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Kuba I get an error when evaluating this. An unknown box name (TravelDirections[{GeoPosition[{21.0112, 105.808}], GeoPosition[{13.9719, 108.015}]}]) was sent as the BoxForm for the expression. Check the format rules for the expression. $\endgroup$
    – Emy
    Jan 19, 2016 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ It's new in 10.3. $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Jan 19, 2016 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ aha. I haven't made the jump from 10.2 yet. I will try it on another PC which does have 10.3 $\endgroup$
    – Emy
    Jan 19, 2016 at 11:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ don't worry it's not a solution you are after, it doesn't give the shortest path: reference.wolfram.com/language/ref/TravelDirections.html $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Jan 19, 2016 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


Here is a solution I can think of. Idea is to take the FullPolygon of a given country and then triangulate the region. Once that is done take the underlying Graph and do a FindShortestPath. Result will not be too bad.

fullPoly = CountryData["Vietnam", "FullPolygon"];
pts = Flatten[fullPoly[[1, 1]], 1];
line = Polygon[Range[##]] & @@@ Partition[{1}~Join~
 Most[Riffle[Accumulate[Length /@ #], 
     1 + Accumulate[Length /@ #]] &@fullPoly[[1, 1]]], 2];
country = Quiet@DiscretizeRegion[MeshRegion[pts, line], MaxCellMeasure -> .004]

Let's construct the Graph and find the shortest path.

graph = Graph[MeshCoordinates[country], 
MeshCells[country, 1] /. Line[{start_, end_}] -> {start, end}, 
VertexCoordinates -> MeshCoordinates[country], 
GraphLayout -> "PlanarEmbedding"];
fun = Nearest[GeoPosition[{MeshCoordinates[country]}]];
(* the start and end point you gave *)
{st, en} = Flatten[fun /@ 
{GeoPosition[{21.0112, 105.808, 0}],GeoPosition[{13.9719, 108.015, 0}]}
] /.GeoPosition[{a_, b_}] :> {a, b};
(* the shortest path *)
path = FindShortestPath[graph, st, en];
HighlightGraph[graph, PathGraph[path],GraphHighlightStyle -> "Thick"]

enter image description here

Now plotting the path on the map with little style is easy with GeoGraphics.

GeoGraphics[{Dashed, Thick, Red, Arrow@GeoPath[path, "Geodesic"], 
Orange, PointSize[0.025], Point@GeoPosition[st], Blue,PointSize[0.025],
Point@GeoPosition[en],Directive[Opacity@.05, Pink], 
Polygon[Entity["Country", "Vietnam"]]}, ImageSize -> Large]

enter image description here

The above method should work for most countries. Hope this helps.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your great answer! Two questions: Is it me or do the paths not match perfectly? (In the GeoGraphis one, the path seems to follow the coastline for a bit, while in the graph it does not) Also, can I increase the resolution in polygons, or maybe "straighten" the line? cheers. $\endgroup$
    – Emy
    Jan 19, 2016 at 16:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The graph image was done with less mesh resolution (MaxCellMeasure -> .04) as it looks better and we can see the edges better. The GeoGraphics image is result of using MaxCellMeasure -> .004 which is probably a good setting for a fine mesh resolution. You are of course free to increase the resolution. Both the path will be same for a fixed MaxCellMeasure setting. $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2016 at 16:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Emy To straighten the segments of the line you'd be likely to reduce the resolution in polygons; to make the line shorter you'd increase the resolution. $\endgroup$
    – tricasse
    Jan 19, 2016 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @tricasse Thanks as well. That's good to know. Although I assume that with less resolution the line will be somewhat more erratic going left and right. I'll play around with this to see what better suits me. $\endgroup$
    – Emy
    Jan 20, 2016 at 8:00

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