Natural Earth Map Maker

The group over at Natural Earth have put together a great collection of public domain map data and made it freely available online. There are numerous global datasets provided at several different scales. Bad news is most of the data is provided in SHP file format, which does not import directly into the free version of Google Earth. Good news is I have taken the following 13 map layers and converted them for Google Earth.

  • Base Map – Shaded Relief Map
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Lakes – Major Lakes
  • Rivers – Major Rivers
  • Reefs
  • Geographic Areas – Great Plains, Congo Basin, etc.
  • Geographic Points – Mountains, Depressions, etc.
  • Geographic Lines – Date Line, Tropic Lines, etc.
  • Glaciated Areas
  • Countries
  • States – States, Provinces, etc.
  • Urban Areas
  • Cities – Major cities

Each layer can be turned on or off independently allowing you to mix and match the data however best fits your needs. Most of the features have been categorized by size or relative importance. Larger rivers have larger names and thicker lines. Larger cities have larger names and placemarks, etc. ¬†This makes it easy to generate a map of the data you need, and whether you’re planning¬†O2 coverage areas or conducting research for a environmental paper.

Each layer is activated by a Network Link, which is typically between 1-5 megabytes. When you first enable a layer, it might take a minute to download. Also, slower computers might have a difficult time displaying some of the layers with colored polygons.

Below area few examples of what can be created with the Natural Earth Map Maker.

Natural Earth

Natural Earth

Natural Earth

Download With Google Earth


Google Earth Library

Made with Natural Earth


5 comments to Natural Earth Map Maker

  • Kevin Christian

    i found an error in your french rivers. you have marked a river as the Lot. It is in fact the Tarn.
    The river Lot is here

    great tool you’ve created there!

  • Kevin Christian

    hi topomatt

    can’t say as i blame you there ;-) i found quite a few more errors in the french rivers

  • Hi,

    Im trying to overlay this file onto a map using the google map api ( GIS SOftware for Joomla)

    I have downloaded the KML file for google earth. WISroGIS has the capability to load KML and GPX files – why wont this file display the rivers as an overlay in it?

    Any suggestions?


    • topomatt

      Google Map API only supports a small subset of KML features (no Superoverlays, limited number of placemarks/polygons, etc.), so that’s probably the problem. Google Earth API supports the full KML feature set, so that should work if you really want to embed something on a web site.


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