Hello all, first I'd like to say I'm a total beginner when it comes to map drawing. At the minute I have a specific type of map in mind which I would like to recreate but have no idea about how to go about doing so. Basically, I want to be able to draw a map similar in style to this one: http://tzirtzi.ipage.com/akana/image...-physical3.png

Eventually I want it to be used as a linguistic map which I can shade different language/dialect groups over it or show the movement of language families across the map. I'm not so bothered about detailed colouring as long as I can show altitude somehow and perhaps maybe fertile/desert areas.

I realise I'm probably going to sound like a nuisance, but which programs would you recommend me to use for this style of map (bearing in mind illustrator/PS is out of my budge range right now). I have messed around on GIMP a bit and so far got semi-decent results on very basic maps, but I'd like to be able to do the contour lines and maybe some shading? Any help/advice/pointers would be very appreciated.

Many thanks!