Jon Parker of Spain has added an interesting layer to the regular Google Maps view that will help with visual recognition of terrain features all over the world:
Shaded-Relief.com has been created a custom layer in Google maps using "srtm30+ and srtm90 dem's and used VMAP0 sea, lake and river overlays to create a shaded relief layer. The layer compliments Google Maps satellite viewing well. To add to the viewing experience Jon has mashed up the cool viewing layer with the GeoNames.org database which contains over 8 million geographical names (rivers, mountains, lakes etc..) This will let you plot these geo features directly to the map. . Jon is planning to add more search features soon. Jon also explains his progress: "..We have uploaded up to zoom level 8 completely and have the northern hemisphere of level 9 completed - Southern Hemisphere in progress - just 60,000 tiles to go!"