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ESRI shapefiles are split up into “Shapes” which are split further into “Parts”.
For example: One could think of a college or corporate campus as a group of buildings.  The individual buildings could be stored as “Parts” and the entire campus could be stored as a group.
KML files work in a similar fashion, although the terminology is different.  In a KML file, the “Shape” is termed “Placemark” and the “Part” is termed by its data type (ie. “Polygon”).
Figure 2.1 – Part: A single building (part) is
highlighted. (osm.org image)
Figure 2.2 – Shape: A entire campus (shape)
or group of buildings is highlighted.
(osm.org image)