From OpenStreetMap Wiki
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There at least four different loosely related concepts called Layers:
- In a GIS as well as in OpenLayers, you can have different independent maps on each other, synchronized by geographic position.
- We have a layer tag to properly align features vertically.
- Jochen Topf has written down ideas about relating different databases in OSM format to each other.
- This page is about the convenience to edit different parts of the same main OSM database.