This tutorial explains how to import complex shapes into your projects with shapefiles. A shapefile is the ESRI created format for transfering geographic data. Shapefiles are collections of three or more associated files that come together to represent vector features, such as points, lines, and polygons, each with descriptive attributes, such as “name” or “temperature”. When imported into CartoDB, these attributes comprise your dataset. You can import shapefiles with the Connect Dataset options. Additionally, you can export any dataset and save as the shapefile (SHP) file format. .SHP This file contains the primary geographic reference data and records of various shape types included, such as points, polygons, or multipatches. .SHX The shapefile index format does what its name suggests, which is to organize the records of a shapefile for reference. .PRJ The projection format is essential because it contains coordinate system and projection information. As a plain text file, it describes your data using markup language, which allows it to sync with many applications. Note: Projection files are not mandatory for importing, but should be considered as part of your data. If projection files are mislabeled or missing from your zip file, CartoDB automatically creates and appends the default standard spatial reference format (SRID, 4326.prj) to a projection file, in order to avoid import errors. Since the projection file represents the latitutde and longitude in the_geom column of your dataset, it is highly recommended to verify that your geometries appear correctly, otherwise you may be using a projection file that is not 4326 compatible. CartoDB requires that you create a .ZIP file containing the .SHP, .DBF, .SHX and .PRJ files, all prefixed with same name (while not required, this is a suggested best practice). For example, a ne_10m_populated_places.zip zip file contains ne_10m_populated_places.shp, ne_10m_populated_places.dbf, ne_10m_populated_places.shx, and ne_10m_populated_places.prj. Regardless of your preferred zip method, be mindful of selecting the complete components of your shapefile from whichever folder they are stored Source.