Natural Earth II
World environment map in natural color

Pop-up map legend

Natural Earth II is a raster map dataset that portrays the world environment in an idealized manner with little human influence. Imagine the urban landscapes of New York, Paris, and Tokyo restored to temperate forest, southern Russia as the open steppe it once was, and the Amazon River basin covered with unbroken rainforest. A successor dataset to the original Natural Earth, Natural Earth II owes its inspiration to the classic physical maps published by the National Geographic Society.

The softly blended colors of Natural Earth II make it a suitable base for general-purpose mapping, including historical maps, because it shows the world much as it looked before the modern era. Natural Earth II data comes in several versions for use with cartography and GIS software.

Tom Patterson
US National Park Service (Disclaimer)

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Update: Check out NaturalEarthData.com for a new version of Natural Earth II and matching vector data.