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National Geographic Society

National Geographic Society
Logo of the National Geographic Society
Logo of the National Geographic Society
Abbreviation NGS
Motto "Inspire, illuminate, teach"[1]
Formation Gardiner Greene Hubbard, January 1888 (1888-01)
Region served
6.8 million
John M. Fahey, Jr.
Gary Knell
Main organ
Board of Trustees
Website .com.nationalgeographicwww

The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States of America, is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history. The National Geographic Society’s logo is a yellow portrait frame – rectangular in shape – which appears on the margins surrounding the front covers of its magazines and as its television channel logo. It also operates a website that features extra content and worldwide events.


  • Overview 1
  • History 2
  • Founders 3
  • Publications 4
    • National Geographic 4.1
    • Other publications 4.2
  • Films and television 5
    • National Geographic Films 5.1
    • Television 5.2
  • National Geographic Museum 6
  • Support for research and projects 7
  • Awards 8
    • Hubbard Medal 8.1
    • Alexander Graham Bell Medal 8.2
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


A dancer of the cafes, Algeria, 1917 photograph from National Geographic magazine

The National Geographic Society was founded in 1888 "to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge." The Society believes in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world, and its purpose is to inspire, illuminate and teach. National Geographic is governed by a board of trustees, whose 21 members include distinguished educators, business executives, former government officials and conservationists.

The organization sponsors and funds scientific research and exploration. The Society publishes a journal,

Photos, maps, and other images
  • Society's flag
Additional resources
  • National Geographic Libraries & Information Services
  • NGS Collectors Corner – managed by National Geographic Libraries' Archives.
  • National Geographic Official YouTube Channel
  • National Geographic Animals
  • Works by or about National Geographic Society at Internet Archive
  • Works by National Geographic Society at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Official websites
  • Official website
  • Magazine OnlineNational Geographic
  • National Geographic for Kids
  • National Geographic News
  • National Geographic Photography
  • National Geographic Maps
  • National Geographic Maps TOPO! Explorer
  • National Geographic Channel
  • National Geographic Traveler
  • National Geographic Museum
  • National Geographic Expeditions
  • National Geographic Education Foundation
  • National Geographic Education - Encyclopedic Entry: citizen science

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ Also note that, as of August 28, 2009 (and likely before), the website title is "National Geographic – Inspiring People to Care About the Planet".
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1] Archived May 14, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Global Green Archived June 26, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^


See also

The National Geographic Society also awards, rarely, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal, for exceptional contributions to geographic research. The award is named after Alexander Graham Bell, scientist, inventor and the second president of the NGS. Up to mid-2011, the medal has been twice presented:[11][12]

Alexander Graham Bell Medal

The Hubbard Medal is awarded by the National Geographic Society for distinction in exploration, discovery, and research. The medal is named for Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the first National Geographic Society president. The Hubbard Medal has been presented 35 times as of 2010, the most recent award going to Don Walsh.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's customized medal detailing her flight route

Hubbard Medal


The Society also organizes the National Geographic Bee, an annual geographic contest for U.S. fourth- through eighth-graders. About 4 million students a year begin the geography competition locally, which culminates in a national competition of the winners of each state each May in Washington, D.C. Journalist Soledad O'Brien is the moderator of the Bee. She succeeded Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy!, who moderated the final round of the competition for 25 years, from its inception in 1989 to 2013. Every two years, the Society conducts an international geography competition of competing teams from all over the world. The most recent was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July 2013, and had representatives from 19 national teams. The team from the United States emerged as the winner, with teams from Canada and India in second and third place.

The Society supports many socially based projects including Reza.

The Society has helped sponsor many expeditions and research projects over the years, including:

National Geographic Society's Administration Building in Washington, D.C.

Support for research and projects

The Society operates the National Geographic Museum, located at 1145 17th Street, NW (17th and M), in Washington, D.C. The museum features changing photography exhibitions featuring the work of National Geographic explorers, photographers, and scientists. There are also changing exhibits related to natural history, culture, history or society.

National Geographic Museum

National Geographic Channel, launched in January 2001, is a joint venture of National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks. It has featured stories on numerous scientific figures such as Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, and Louis Leakey that not only featured their work but as well helped make them world-famous and accessible to millions. Most of the specials were narrated by various actors, including Glenn Close, Linda Hunt, Stacy Keach, Richard Kiley, Burgess Meredith, Susan Sarandon, Alexander Scourby, Martin Sheen, and Peter Strauss. The specials' theme music, by Elmer Bernstein, was also adopted by the National Geographic Channel. The National Geographic Channel has begun to launch a number of sub-branded channels in international markets, such as Nat Geo Adventure, Nat Geo Music, and Nat Geo Wild.

Programs by the National Geographic Society are also broadcast on television. National Geographic television specials and series have been aired on PBS and other networks in the United States and globally for many years. The Geographic series in the U.S. started on CBS in 1964, moved to ABC in 1973, shifted to PBS (produced by WQED, Pittsburgh) in 1975, shifted to NBC in 1995, and returned to PBS in 2000.


  • Sea Monsters (2007), inspired by a National Geographic Magazine article, is a 3-D large format and reality film, with a musical score by Peter Gabriel.
  • Arctic Tale (2007), a feature film documenting the story of two families of walrus and polar bears, narrated by Queen Latifah.
  • Morgan Freeman; it received an Academy Award for the Best Documentary in 2006. After a record $77 million theatrical gross in the United States, over four million DVD copies of March of the Penguins have been sold.

National Geographic Films is a wholly owned taxable subsidiary of the National Geographic Society. Films it has produced include:

National Geographic Films

Films and television

Additionally, the Society publishes atlases, books, and maps. It previously published and co-published other magazines, including National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Research (a scientific journal), and others, and continues to publish special issues of various magazines.

The Society also runs an online news outlet called National Geographic Daily News.[9]

  • National Geographic Explorer: Classroom magazine. The National Geographic School Bulletin was launched in 1919. It became National Geographic World, which developed into a children's magazine, in 1975, and was separated into the current National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Kids in 2001. It has four separate editions, for different grades, and has grown to about 2½ million circulation.
  • National Geographic History, launched in 2015.
  • National Geographic Kids: A version of National Geographic Magazine for children, launched in 2001. It has a U.S. circulation of over 1.5 million. There are also currently 18 local-language editions of NG Kids, with another half million in circulation. An Arabic edition of the children's magazine was launched in Egypt in early 2007, and more than 42,000 copies are distributed to all the public schools in Egypt, in addition to another 15,000 single copy sales. More recently, an Albanian and Polish edition were launched.
  • National Geographic Little Kids: for younger children aged 3–6
  • National Geographic Traveler: launched in 1984. There are 18 local-language editions of NG Traveler.

In addition to its flagship magazine, the Society publishes several other periodicals:

Other publications

There are 12 monthly issues of National Geographic per year. The magazine contains articles about geography, popular science, world history, culture, current events and photography of places and things all over the world and universe. National Geographic magazine is currently published in 40 local-language editions in many countries around the world. Combined English and other language circulation is around 6.8 million monthly, with some 60 million readers.

National Geographic Magazine, later shortened to National Geographic, published its first issue in October 1888, nine months after the Society was founded, as the Society's official journal, a benefit for joining the tax-exempt National Geographic Society. Starting with the February 1910 (Vol XXI., No. 2) issue, the magazine began using its now famous trademarked yellow border around the edge of its covers.

Cover of January 1915 National Geographic

National Geographic


There were 33 founders.[8]


On September 9, 2015, the Society announced that it would re-organize its media properties and publications into a new company known as National Geographic Partners, which will be majority-owned by 21st Century Fox with a 73% stake. This new, for-profit corporation, will own the National Geographic magazine, as well as its affiliated television networks—most of which were already owned in joint ventures with Fox.[7]

Bell and Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor devised the successful marketing notion of Society membership and the first major use of photographs to tell stories in magazines. The current National Geographic Society president and CEO is Gary E. Knell. The chairman of the board of trustees is John Fahey. The editor in chief of National Geographic magazine is Susan Goldberg. Gilbert Melville Grosvenor, a former chairman of the Society board of trustees received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for his leadership in geography education. In 2004, the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., was one of the first buildings to receive a "Green" certification[5] from Global Green USA.[6] The National Geographic received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities in October 2006 in Oviedo, Spain.

The National Geographic Society began as a club for an elite group of academics and wealthy patrons interested in travel.[4] On January 13, 1888, 33 explorers and scientists gathered at the Gardiner Greene Hubbard became its first president and his son-in-law, Alexander Graham Bell, succeeded him in 1897. In 1899, Bell's son-in-law Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor was named the first full-time editor of National Geographic magazine and served the organization for fifty-five years (until 1954), and members of the Grosvenor family have played important roles in the organization since.

The diploma presented to Italian Admiral Ernesto Burzagli when he was awarded membership in the National Geographic Society in 1928.


National Geographic has retail stores in Washington, D.C., London, Sydney, and Panama. The locations outside of the United States are operated by Worldwide Retail Store S.L., a Spanish holding company.

National Geographic's various media properties reach more than 700 million people monthly.[3] National Geographic maintains a museum for the public in its Washington, D.C., headquarters. It has helped to sponsor popular traveling exhibits, such as an early 2010s "King Tut" exhibit featuring magnificent artifacts from the tomb of the young Egyptian Pharaoh; "The Cultural Treasures of Afghanistan" which opened in May 2008 and traveled to other cities for 18 months; and an exhibition of China's Terracotta Warriors in its Washington headquarters in 2009–10.

Its Committee for Research and Exploration has awarded more than 11,000 grants for scientific research and exploration. [2]

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