Associative Arrays in Bash - Accessing Elements in an Associative array

Hi all,

This is the second mini tutorial about Associative Arrays in Bash. You can check the previous one here:

In this mini-tutorial, we’ll be talking about how to access elements in an associative array. We’ll be accessing them individually with for loops.

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May 11, 2021
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Following the example from the previous part, we’ll create an Associative array called DOAssosArray and populate it with Counties as keys and Capitals as values:

declare -A DOAssosArray

As we said, we’ll be accessing elements of an associative array by using 2 different methods:

  • Access elements Individually
  • Access elements with a for loop

Access elements Individually

You can access values in an associative array by calling it’s key:

echo ${DOAssosArray[KEY]}

in our case

echo ${DOAssosArray[Germany]}

The output will be Berlin:

root@DevServer:~$ echo ${DOAssosArray[Germany]}

We can even ECHO all VALUES or KEYS in the array like so:

echo all VALUES:

root@nDevServer:~$ echo ${DOAssosArray[@]}
Madrid Berlin Paris

echo all KEYS:

root@nDevServer:~$ echo ${!DOAssosArray[@]}
Spain Germany France

Access elements with a for loop

Let’s say we need to print all values of an associative array, we’ll do that with a for loop.

for capitol in "${DOAssosArray[@]}"; do echo $capitol;done


root@DevServer:~$ for capitol in "${DOAssosArray[@]}"; do echo $capitol;done

Now, similar to the previous point, we can call all KEYS using the exclamation symbol (!) before the name of the array -

for country in "${!DOAssosArray[@]}"; do echo $country;done


root@DevServer:~$ for country in "${!DOAssosArray[@]}"; do echo $country;done

Next time we’ll be reviewing how to use WHILE loops with Associative arrays in BASH and what to use them for.

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