I love the bathymetry data from Natural Earth. I've been looking for the last few days for the same basic data but for land. I'm trying to find general elevation shapefiles, as polygons. I don't need it to be 100% accurate since it's just for appearance of a stylised map.

Unable to find it, I've been trying to make it in QGIS. I've managed to convert global heightmap data to a shapefile, but it came out as squares matching pixels. That's no good. Trying to convert contours to polygons doesn't work, obviously,

Is there a place to download elevation shapefiles equivalent to the Natural Earth equivalent bathymetry?

Why is it so hard to find lower resolution elevation data that's global?

  • Interesting question - there is a discussion of the method for creating these nested elevation polygons here. I think most of the tools they mention have a GRASS equivalent. – Simbamangu Mar 28 '14 at 12:54
  • Interesting. I was surprised when I wasn't able to find the shapefiles as polygons since they exist for what's below sea level, and it seems like there'd be the same issues between the two. – Yhilan Mar 28 '14 at 15:41
  • I assume though that bathymetric data is whole lot more sparse than elevation data, and thus more suited to conversion to polygon. I think in the main you will need to get hold of some free raster data, such as SRTM (www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm) and do the conversion yourself for the areas you are interested in. – nmtoken Mar 28 '14 at 20:19

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