django-cities-light – Simple django-cities alternative

This add-on provides models and commands to import country, region/state, and city data in your database.

The data is pulled from GeoNames and contains cities, regions/states and countries.

Spatial query support is not required by this application.

This application is very simple and is useful if you want to make a simple address book for example. If you intend to build a fully featured spatial database, you should use django-cities.


  • Python 2.7 or 3.3,
  • Django >= 1.7
  • MySQL or PostgreSQL or SQLite.

Yes, for some reason, code that used to work on MySQL (not without pain xD) does not work anymore. So we’re now using django.db.transaction.atomic which comes from Django 1.6 just to support MySQL quacks.




Install django-cities-light:

pip install django-cities-light

Or the development version:

pip install -e

Add cities_light to your INSTALLED_APPS.

Configure filters to exclude data you don’t want, ie.:


Now, run migrations, it will only create tables for models that are not disabled:

./ migrate

Data update

Finally, populate your database with command:

./ cities_light

This command is well documented, consult the help with:

./ help cities_light


To build the docs use the following steps:

  1. mkvirtualenv dcl-doc
  2. pip install -e ./
  3. pip install -r docs/requirements.txt
  4. cd docs
  5. make html


MySQL errors with special characters, how to fix it ?

The cities_light command is continuously tested on travis-ci on all supported databases: if it works there then it should work for you.

If you’re new to development in general, you might not be familiar with the concept of encodings and collations. Unless you have a good reason, you must have utf-8 database tables. See MySQL documentation for details.

We’re pointing to MySQL documentations because PostgreSQL users probably know what UTF-8 is and won’t have any problem with that.

Some data fail to import, how to skip them ?

GeoNames is not perfect and there might be some edge cases from time to time. We want the cities_light management command to work for everybody so you should open an issue in GitHub if you get a crash from that command.

However, we don’t want you to be blocked, so keep in mind that you can use Signals like cities_light.city_items_pre_import, cities_light.region_items_pre_import, cities_light.country_items_pre_import, to skip or fix items before they get inserted in the database by the normal process.

Indices and tables