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I am starting to work on an alternate-timeline story on Earth. Is there a web site or software that will let me see just the mountains, rivers, etc. without national or local borders, or cities and towns?

Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ I've downvoted your question because it seems like you missed some prior research beforehand. To improve your research success, take a look at similar words on your favorite search engine (e.g.: I want a "map", then search for "map"). Look both for text and images ('specially if the topic is mostly visual). Also, if you still don't find, broaden your horizons by a topic "above" : No luck with "map"? Look for "geography map" or "geology map" instead! Still, I hope answers here will help you find what you wish :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 12 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ Geological maps come in many forms. Cities may show, but territorial claims would often be irrelevant. $\endgroup$ Aug 13 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ Do you want physical landmarks labeled? (Lakes, rivers, mountains, canyons, etc) $\endgroup$
    – cowlinator
    Aug 13 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I did search on this site and Softwarerecs. Didn't see quite what I wanted. $\endgroup$
    – FlaStorm32
    Aug 13 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @FlaStorm32 The main purpose of my comment is to help future searches ^^. But if you want to avoid downvotes for future questions, you should give an hint of where you have looked or what you already know. Here for instance : give links to maps which don't meet your criteria, or say you're looking for topography maps (this hints you already know some map categories). If you dig through web pages with the search tips above, you should get either of these in no time :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 14 at 12:54

4 Answers 4

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Google maps will work.

delaware unlabeled from google maps

Here is Washington DC and Delaware. Go to the place you want on Google maps. Go to Layers on the bottom left. CLick on satellite image. When you do a button called "labels" will no longer be grayed out. I put a red arrow on that button. Uncheck that and labels will go away as in the above image. Presto!

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    $\begingroup$ A satellite image still shows cities, at least when zoomed in. $\endgroup$ Aug 13 at 23:37
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What you're looking for is a "topography" map

Topographic studies are the study of land shapes and forms. Since you want mountains, lakes, rivers, it looks like this kind of studies and maps are pretty spot-on.

Google map already does this kind of thing at a basic level, Google Earth being its more "advanced" brother.

Google Earth pointing at the East of Africa

Going further with more specialized maps, you have topographic-map.com, which provides pretty accurate reliefs of mountains in pretty and clear shades of red, green and blue.

South of France topography

And if you still don't have enough, you can find more on Wikipedia. If not, then in wikimedia commons. Here, for instance, Argentina's

Argentina's map from wikipedia

If this is still not enough (why'd you want so many maps, anyway :p?), you can find in some bookstores atlases which almost always go over this kind of map. Finally, some countries hold topographic studies themselves, held on some government websites. It's of course highly dependent on said country's budget in geography, but you might obtain even more accurate data, or perhaps historical ones.

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I've got your map right here!

Check out the Equal Earth Physical Wall Map, a high-resolution non-political map (exactly what you're looking for) that can be downloaded in high resolution for free. This gives you the entire globe to lay out on your table or computer screen just as big and detailed as you want it to mark up, design, and build your world as you see fit!

enter image description here

Can we say, "Gamma World" anyone?

You have different kinds of world maps you can download (the biggest one is quite large) and I've linked you to their download page.

Important!

My only complaint with them is that rather than creating a PDF for their vector version, they created (of all things) an Apple MaxOSX Adobe Illustrator CC version. Smart people, right up until they created the most potentially useful version of the file, then they tripped.

Nevertheless, take a look around at what they have. I think they're cool.

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All answers currently give solutions that show cities (e.g. satellite imagery), whilst the question explicitly asks for a solution that does not show cities.

Is there a web site or software that will let me see just the mountains, rivers, etc. without national or local borders, or cities and towns?

Google Maps allows configuring custom map Styles that allow customizing the look of the map. By hiding all labels, road and human-made landscape we get I think exactly the map you want:

enter image description here

(Important: This image is NOT licensed under CC! It's a screenshot from Google Maps)

Step 1: Google Map Style generator

Go to https://mapstyle.withgoogle.com/

Step 2: Set the main category slides to hidden

enter image description here

(Important: This image is NOT licensed under CC! It's a screenshot from Google Maps)

Step 3: Hide human-made landscape

Select "More options" then "Human-made" then "All" and then "Hidden"

enter image description here

(Important: This image is NOT licensed under CC! It's a screenshot from Google Map Style)

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    $\begingroup$ Well, technically you can never really hide towns, they're part of the landscape and affect land height, rivers, and forests. This is true for any artificial elements, be it cities, water canals or agriculture fields. The only way to achieve a true "no town/city" map is to get back in time, before human built upon the land. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 14 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Technically speaking not all human made changes to waterways and the landscape were cities though. The question technically didn't ask about 'a map from before humans', but of a map without borders or cities. I do agree though that my first screenshot intentionally included the Netherlands as it contains an entire province that's human made, however it lacked mountains, so I went with Italy instead. $\endgroup$ Aug 14 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ You seems to have missed my point : If cities do change landscapes, any of todays map will be affected by it, so you can't "hide them". Removing labels (as every answer excepted JBH's I think do) reduces noise and you could remove buildings and roads from maps (more what you offer), but height and forests still remain the same :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Aug 14 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena yeah, but 'hiding the effects of cities/human occupation' is not the same as 'hiding cities'. The question was technically asking for the second, although I wouldn't be surprised if what they wanted was more like the first. $\endgroup$ Aug 15 at 3:33

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