Data shows Unknown coordinate system even when the projection has been defined


Shapefiles, rasters, computer-aided design data, and geodatabases display 'Unknown' as the coordinate system even when the data has a defined coordinate system. However, the coordinate system for coverages does display properly.

In ArcCatalog, browsing the Coordinate Systems directory and attempting to open one of the .prj files results in the following error message:

"Failed to create the spatial reference system from the specific prj file."


The decimal separator in the regional settings does not match the locale of the machine.


A locale with default settings must be used.

  1. From the Control Panel, open Regional Settings.
  2. Select the Number tab.

    Does the Decimal symbol value match the set locale? For example, English (United States) uses a period for the decimal symbol value. Spanish (Modern Sort) uses a comma for the decimal symbol value.

  3. If the decimal symbol value doesn't match the default setting of the local, the default decimal setting is unknown, select the locale for use on the Regional Settings tab and click Apply.

Article ID:000005002

  • ArcMap 8 x
  • ArcMap 9 x

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