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National Geographic
National Geographic Magazine March 2017 Cover.jpg
March 2017 cover of National Geographic
EditorNathan Lump [1]
Categories Geography, history, nature, science, world culture
Total circulation
(June 2016)
6.1 million (global) [2]
FoundedJanuary 13, 1888; 135 years ago (1888-01-13) [3]
First issueSeptember 22, 1888; 134 years ago (1888-09-22) [4]
CountryUnited States
Based in Washington, D.C. [5]
LanguageEnglish and various other languages
ISSN 0027-9358
OCLC 643483454

National Geographic (formerly the National Geographic Magazine, [6] sometimes branded as NAT GEO [7]) is an American monthly magazine published by National Geographic Partners. [8]

The magazine was founded in 1888 as a scholarly journal, nine months after the establishment of the society, but is now a popular magazine. In 1905, it began including pictures, a style for which it became well-known. Its first color photos appeared in the 1910s. During the Cold War, the magazine committed itself to present a balanced view of the physical and human geography of countries beyond the Iron Curtain. Later, the magazine became outspoken on environmental issues. Since 2019, controlling interest has been held by The Walt Disney Company.

Topics of features generally concern geography, history, nature, science, and world culture. The magazine is well known for its distinctive appearance: a thick square-bound glossy format with a yellow rectangular border. Map supplements from National Geographic Maps are included with subscriptions, and it is available in a traditional printed edition and an interactive online edition.

As of 1995, the magazine was circulated worldwide in nearly 40 local-language editions and had a global circulation of at least 6.5 million per month (down from about 12 million in the late 1980s), including 3.5 million within the U.S. [9] [10] As of October 2022, its Instagram page has 243 million followers, the most of any account not belonging to an individual celebrity. [11] As of 2015, the magazine had won 25 National Magazine Awards. [12]


January 1915 cover of The National Geographic Magazine

The first issue of the National Geographic Magazine was published on September 22, 1888, nine months after the Society was founded. It was initially a scholarly journal sent to 165 charter members; currently, it reaches the hands of 40 million people each month. [13] Starting with its January 1905 publication of several full-page pictures of Tibet in 1900–01, the magazine from being a text-oriented publication to featuring extensive pictorial content. By 1908 more than half of the magazine's pages were photographs. The June 1985 cover portrait of a 12-year-old Afghan girl Sharbat Gula, shot by photographer Steve McCurry, became one of the magazine's most recognizable images. [14]

National Geographic Kids, the children's version of the magazine, was launched in 1975 under the name National Geographic World.

In the late 1990s, the magazine began publishing The Complete National Geographic, an electronic collection of every past issue of the magazine. It was then sued over copyright of the magazine as a collective work in Greenberg v. National Geographic and other cases, and temporarily withdrew the compilation. The magazine eventually prevailed in the dispute, and in July 2009 resumed publishing all past issues through December 2008. More recent issues were later added to the collection; the archive and electronic edition of the magazine are available online to the magazine's subscribers.[ citation needed]

In September 2015, the National Geographic Society moved the magazine to National Geographic Partners, in which 21st Century Fox held a 73% controlling interest. [15] In December 2017, a deal was announced for Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox, including the interest in National Geographic Partners. [16] The acquisition was completed in March 2019. [17] NG Media publishing unit was operationally transferred into Disney Publishing Worldwide. [18]



The magazine had a single "editor" from 1888 to 1920. From 1920 to 1967, the chief editorship was held by the president of the National Geographic Society. Since 1967, the magazine has been overseen by its own "editor" and/or "editor-in-chief". The list of editors-in-chief includes three generations of the Grosvenor family between 1903 and 1980.

  • John Hyde: (October 1888 – September 1900; Editor-in-Chief: September 1900 – February 1903)[ citation needed]
  • Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (1875–1966): (Editor-in-Chief: February 1903 – January 1920; Managing Editor: September 1900 – February 1903; Assistant Editor: May 1899 – September 1900)
  • Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor: (1920–1954) (president of the society and editor-in-chief at the same time)
  • John Oliver La Gorce (1879–1959): (May 1954 – January 1957) (president of the society at the same time)
  • Melville Bell Grosvenor (1901–1982): (January 1957 – August 1967) (president of the society at the same time) (thereafter editor-in-chief to 1977)
  • Frederick Vosburgh (1905–2005): (August 1967 – October 1970)
  • Gilbert Melville Grosvenor (born 1931): (October 1970 – July 1980) (then became president of the society)
  • Wilbur E. Garrett: (July 1980 – April 1990)
  • William Graves: (April 1990 – December 1994)
  • William L. Allen: (January 1995 – January 2005)
  • Chris Johns: (January 2005 – April 2014) (first "editor-in-chief" since MBG)
  • Susan Goldberg: (April 2014 – April 2022) [1] [19] [20]
  • Nathan Lump: (May 2022 – present) [21]


During the Cold War, the magazine committed itself to present a balanced view of the physical and human geography of countries beyond the Iron Curtain. The magazine printed articles on Berlin, de-occupied Austria, the Soviet Union, and Communist China that deliberately downplayed politics to focus on culture. In its coverage of the Space Race, National Geographic focused on the scientific achievement while largely avoiding reference to the race's connection to nuclear arms buildup. There were also many articles in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s about the individual states and their resources, along with supplementary maps of each state. Many of these articles were written by longtime staff such as Frederick Simpich. [22] There were also articles about biology and science topics.[ citation needed]

In later years,[ when?] articles became outspoken on issues such as environmental issues, deforestation, chemical pollution, global warming, and endangered species.[ citation needed] Series of articles were included focusing on the history and varied uses of specific products such as a single metal, gem, food crop, or agricultural product, or an archaeological discovery. Occasionally an entire month's issue would be devoted to a single country, past civilization, a natural resource whose future is endangered, or other themes. In recent decades, the National Geographic Society has unveiled other magazines with different focuses. Whereas the magazine featured lengthy expositions in the past, recent issues have shorter articles.[ citation needed]


Color photograph of the Taj Mahal. Source: The National Geographic Magazine, March 1921

In addition to being well known for articles about scenery, history, and the most distant corners of the world, the magazine has been recognized for its book-like quality and its standard of photography. It was during the tenure of Society President Alexander Graham Bell and editor Gilbert H. Grosvenor (GHG) that the significance of illustration was first emphasized, in spite of criticism from some of the Board of Managers who considered the many illustrations an indicator of an "unscientific" conception of geography. By 1910, photographs had become the magazine's trademark and Grosvenor was constantly on the search for "dynamical pictures" as Graham Bell called them, particularly those that provided a sense of motion in a still image. In 1915, GHG began building the group of staff photographers and providing them with advanced tools including the latest darkroom. [23]

The magazine began to feature some pages of color photography in the early 1930s, when this technology was still in its early development. During the mid-1930s, Luis Marden (1913–2003), a writer and photographer for National Geographic, convinced the magazine to allow its photographers to use the so-called "miniature" 35 mm Leica cameras loaded with Kodachrome film over bulkier cameras with heavy glass plates that required the use of tripods. [24] In 1959, the magazine started publishing small photographs on its covers, later becoming larger photographs. National Geographic photography quickly shifted to digital photography for both its printed magazine and its website. In subsequent years, the cover, while keeping its yellow border, shed its oak leaf trim and bare table of contents, to allow for a full page photograph taken for one of the month's articles. Issues of National Geographic are often kept by subscribers for years and re-sold at thrift stores as collectibles. The standard for photography has remained high over the subsequent decades and the magazine is still illustrated with some of the highest-quality photojournalism in the world. [25] In 2006, National Geographic began an international photography competition, with over eighteen countries participating. [26]

In conservative Muslim countries like Iran and Malaysia, photographs featuring topless or scantily clad members of primitive tribal societies are often blacked out; buyers and subscribers often complain that this practice decreases the artistic value of the photographs for which National Geographic is known.[ citation needed]


Map supplements

Supplementing the articles, the magazine sometimes provides maps of the regions visited. [27]

National Geographic Maps (originally the Cartographic Division) became a division of the National Geographic Society in 1915. The first supplement map, which appeared in the May 1918 issue of the magazine, titled The Western Theatre of War, served as a reference for overseas military personnel and soldiers' families alike. [28] On some occasions, the Society's map archives have been used by the United States government in instances where its own cartographic resources were limited. [29] President Franklin D. Roosevelt's White House map room was filled with National Geographic maps. A National Geographic map of Europe is featured in the displays of the Winston Churchill museum in London showing Churchill's markings at the Yalta Conference where the Allied leaders divided post-war Europe.[ citation needed]

In 2001, National Geographic released an eight- CD-ROM set containing all its maps from 1888 to December 2000. Printed versions are also available from the National Geographic website. [30]

Language editions

First Ukrainian National Geographic magazine presentation
National Geographic English editions collection

In April 1995, National Geographic began publishing in Japanese, its first local language edition. [31] The magazine is currently published in 29 local editions around the world. [32]

Language Country Website Editor-in-chief First issue
English United States Nathan Lump October 1888
English United Kingdom January 2018
Arabic United Arab Emirates
Arab world Hussain AlMoosawi October 2010
Bulgarian Bulgaria Krassimir Drumev November 2005
Chinese Chinese mainland Tianrang Mai July 2007
Chinese Taiwan Yungshih Lee January 2001
Croatian Croatia Hrvoje Prćić November 2003
Czech Czech Republic
Slovakia Tomáš Tureček October 2002
Dutch Netherlands
Belgium Robbert Vermue October 2000
French France Catherine Ritchie October 1999
Georgian Georgia Natia Khuluzauri October 2012
German Germany
Switzerland Werner Siefer October 1999
Hungarian Hungary Tamás Vitray March 2003
Hebrew Israel Idit Elnatan June 1998
Indonesian Indonesia Didi Kaspi Kasim April 2005
Italian Italy Marco Cattaneo February 1998
Japanese Japan Shigeo Otsuka April 1995
Kazakh Kazachstan Yerkin Zhakipov February 2016
Korean South Korea Junemo Kim January 2000
Lithuanian Lithuania Frederikas Jansonas October 2009
Polish Poland Agnieszka Franus October 1999
Portuguese Portugal Gonçalo Pereira April 2001
Serbian Serbia
Montenegro Milana Petrović November 2006
Slovene Slovenia Marija Javornik April 2006
Spanish Latin America Alicia Guzmán November 1997
Spanish Mexico Alicia Guzmán May 2018
Spanish Spain Gonçalo Pereira October 1997
Thai Thailand Kowit Phadungruangkij August 2001

[ citation needed]

The following local-language editions have been discontinued:

Language Country Website First issue Last issue Number of issues
Mongolian Mongolia October 2012 June 2014 21
Greek Greece October 1998 December 2014 194
Ukrainian Ukraine October 2003
April 2013
January 2006
January 2015
Azerbaijani Azerbaijan September 2014 December 2015 16
Latvian Latvia October 2012 March 2016 42
Farsi Iran November 2012
September 2017
February 2018
June 2017
December 2017
September 2018
Portuguese Brazil May 2000 November 2019 235
Danish Denmark September 2000 December 2020 267
Norwegian Norway September 2000 December 2020 267
Swedish Sweden September 2000 December 2020 267
Finnish Finland January 2001 December 2020 263
Romanian [33] Romania May 2003 December 2021 224
Estonian Estonia October 2011 December 2021 123
English India[ permanent dead link] August 2013 December 2021 105
Russian Russia October 2003 April 2022 259
Turkish Turkey May 2001 June 2022 254

[ citation needed]

In association with Trends Publications in Beijing and IDG Asia, National Geographic has been authorized for "copyright cooperation" in China to publish the yellow-border magazine, which launched with the July 2007 issue of the magazine with an event in Beijing on July 10, 2007, and another event on December 6, 2007, in Beijing also celebrating the 29th anniversary of normalization of U.S.–China relations featuring former President Jimmy Carter. The mainland China version is one of the two local-language editions that bump the National Geographic logo off its header in favor of a local-language logo; the other one is the Persian version published under the name Gita Nama.[ citation needed]

Worldwide editions are sold on newsstands in addition to regular subscriptions. In several countries, such as Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine National Geographic paved the way for a subscription model in addition to traditional newsstand sales.[ citation needed]In the United States, newsstand sales began in 1998; previously, membership in the National Geographic Society was the only way to receive the magazine.[ citation needed]


On May 1, 2008, National Geographic won three National Magazine Awards—an award solely for its written content—in the reporting category for an article by Peter Hessler on the Chinese economy; an award in the photojournalism category for work by John Stanmeyer on malaria in the Third World; and a prestigious award for general excellence. [34]

Between 1980 and 2011 the magazine has won a total of 24 National Magazine Awards. [35]

In May 2006, 2007, and 2011 National Geographic magazine won the American Society of Magazine Editors' General Excellence Award in the over two million circulation category. In 2010, National Geographic Magazine received the top ASME awards for photojournalism and essay. In 2011, National Geographic Magazine received the top-award from ASME—the Magazine of the Year Award.

In April 2014, National Geographic received the National Magazine Award ("Ellie") for best tablet edition for its multimedia presentation of Robert Draper's story "The Last Chase," about the final days of a tornado researcher who was killed in the line of duty. [36]

In February 2017, National Geographic received the National Magazine Award ("Ellie") for best website. [37] National Geographic won the 2020 Webby Award for News & Magazines in the category Apps, Mobile & Voice. [38] National Geographic won the 2020 Webby Award and Webby People's Voice Award for Magazine in the category Web. [38]


On the magazine's February 1982 cover, the pyramids of Giza were altered, resulting in the first major scandal of the digital photography age and contributing to photography's "waning credibility". [39]

The cover of the October 1988 issue featured a photo of a large ivory male portrait whose authenticity, particularly the alleged Ice Age provenance, has been questioned. [40]

In 1999, the magazine was embroiled in the Archaeoraptor scandal, in which it purported to have a fossil linking birds to dinosaurs. The fossil was a forgery. [41]

In 2010, the magazine's Your Shot competition was awarded to American filmmaker and photographer William Lascelles for a photograph presented as a portrait of a dog with fighter jets flying over its shoulder. Will Lascelles had, in reality, created the image using photo editing software. [42]

In March 2018, the editor of National Geographic, Susan Goldberg, said that historically the magazine's coverage of people around the world had been racist. Goldberg stated that the magazine ignored non-white Americans and showed different groups as exotic, thereby promoting racial clichés. [43]

See also


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  2. ^ "AAM: Total Circ for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. December 31, 2013. Archived from the original on April 18, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  3. ^ "National Geographic Society Founded". January 11, 2021. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  4. ^ "Home". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on October 8, 2022. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  5. ^ "Contact Us". National Geographic. Archived from the original on May 15, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
  6. ^ "The National Geographic Magazine". National Geographic Magazine. Vol. 1, no. 1. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society. October 1888. p. Front cover. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  7. ^ Beatty, Luke (January 2018). "Evolving one of the world's most iconic, recognizable brands: National Geographic". Retrieved March 15, 2023. Our formal brand name is National Geographic and that is what we use. Of course, we recognize that a lot of our consumers call us "Nat Geo," and that's fine. We use "Nat Geo" primarily in the digital space, where character count is at a premium.
  8. ^ "National Geographic Magazine". Encyclopedia Britannica. Washington, D.C. March 28, 2020. Retrieved March 15, 2023.
  9. ^ Farhi, Paul (September 9, 2014). "National Geographic gives Fox control of media assets in $725 million deal". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on May 15, 2019. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  10. ^ "National Geographic Boilerplates". National Geographic Press Room. National Geographic Society. April 2015. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016. Published in English and nearly 40 local-language editions, National Geographic magazine has a global circulation of around 6.7 million.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Instagrammers". Archived from the original on May 16, 2021. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  12. ^ Howard, Brian Clark (February 3, 2015). "National Geographic Wins National Magazine Awards". National Geographic. Archived from the original on November 19, 2021. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  13. ^ amyatwired (January 27, 2010). "Jan. 27, 1888: National Geographic Society Gets Going". Wired. Archived from the original on October 22, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  14. ^ Dukehart, Coburn (October 1, 2013). "'National Geographic' Celebrates 125 Years Of Photography". NPR. Retrieved March 16, 2023.
  15. ^ Parker, Laura (September 9, 2015). "National Geographic and 21st Century Fox Expand Media Partnership". Archived from the original on July 13, 2018. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  16. ^ Goldman, David (December 14, 2017). "Disney buys 21st Century Fox: Who gets what". CNNMoney. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  17. ^ Szalai, Georg; Bond, Paul (March 20, 2019). "Disney Closes $71.3 Billion Fox Deal, Creating Global Content Powerhouse". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 20, 2019. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  18. ^ Steinberg, Brian (August 29, 2019). "Disney Layoffs Affect National Geographic". Variety. Archived from the original on November 11, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  19. ^ Bryan, C.D.B, "The National Geographic Society, 100 Years of Adventure and Discovery," Abrams Inc., New York, 1997
  20. ^ "Evolution of National Geographic Magazine" (PDF). Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  21. ^ "National Geographic announces Nathan Lump as Editor In Chief". May 5, 2022. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  22. ^ The Complete National Geographic. ISBN  978-1-4262-9635-2.
  23. ^ Wentzel, Volmar K (1998). "GILBERT HOVEY GROSVENOR, FATHER OF PHOTOJOURNALISM". Cosmos Club. Cosmos Club. Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015. Photographs had unquestionably become the Magazine's trademark. They confirmed GHG's conviction, "If the National Geographic Magazine is to progress, it must constantly improve the quality of its illustrations..." At first he borrowed, then bought and probably would have stolen "dynamical" photographs, if in 1915 he had not engaged Franklin L. Fisher as his Chief of Illustrations.
  24. ^ Wentzel, Volmar K (1998). "GILBERT HOVEY GROSVENOR, FATHER OF PHOTOJOURNALISM". Cosmos Club. Cosmos Club. Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  25. ^ "Milestone Photos". Photo Galleries - Celebrating 125 Years. National Geographic Society. 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  26. ^ "Named The Best Travel Photos Of The Year, And They Are Stunning". Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  27. ^ Boyer, David S. (May 1967). "Micronesia-The Americanization of Eden". National Geographic. Vol. 131, no. 5. p. 714. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  28. ^ "Maps of the News – December 2009 Edition" Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Contours, The Official National Geographic Maps Blog, posted December 17, 2009,
  29. ^ Grosvenor, Gilbert (1950). Map Services of the National Geographic Society. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. A Map Cabinet containing over eighteen National Geographic maps has been presented to every U.S. president since President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  30. ^ "Maps". National Geographic.
  31. ^ David Walker (April 1995). "Geographic names new editor; launches Japanese edition". Photo District News. 15 (4). Archived from the original on January 12, 2023. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  32. ^ "February Magazine Covers from Around the World". February 16, 2021. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  33. ^ "Cel puțin deocamdată, revista National Geographic nu va mai apărea în țara noastră – Revista National Geographic Romania".
  34. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard. "National Geographic Wins 3 Awards, Honored Beyond Photography" Archived July 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. The New York Times, May 2, 2008. Accessed January 8, 2010.
  35. ^ "American Society of Magazine Editors database". Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  36. ^ Howard, Brian Clark (May 1, 2014). "National Geographic Wins National Magazine Awards". NGS. National Geographic Society. Retrieved January 18, 2016. The annual National Magazine Awards are considered the premier awards for magazine journalism and are administered by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Winners were announced at a dinner in New York.
  37. ^ "ELLIE AWARDS 2017 WINNERS ANNOUNCED | ASME". Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  38. ^ a b Kastrenakes, Jacob (May 20, 2020). "Here are all the winners of the 2020 Webby Awards". The Verge. Archived from the original on May 21, 2020. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  39. ^ "Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop", Mia Fineman. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. Retrieved 28 jan 2017
  40. ^ Paul G. Bahn (1998). The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art. Cambridge University Press. p.  154. ISBN  978-0521454735.
  41. ^ Rowe, Timothy; Ketcham, Richard A.; Denison, Cambria; Colbert, Matthew; Xu, Xing; Currie, Philip J. (March 29, 2001). "The Archaeoraptor forgery". Nature. 410 (6828): 539–540. doi: 10.1038/35069145. ISSN  1476-4687. PMID  11279483. S2CID  205015615. Archived from the original on December 26, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2022.
  42. ^ "National Geographic Admits Photo Fraud (Plus: 10 Major Photoshopping Scandals)" Archived February 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, Antonina Jedrzejczak. Business Insider. June 11, 2010. Retrieved 28 jan 2017
  43. ^ "National Geographic admits 'racist' past". BBC News. March 13, 2018. Archived from the original on April 16, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.

Further reading

  • Robert M. Poole, Explorers House: National Geographic and the World it Made, 2004; reprint, Penguin Press, 2006, ISBN  978-0-14-303593-0
  • Stephanie L. Hawkins, American Iconographic: "National Geographic," Global Culture, and the Visual Imagination, University of Virginia Press, 2010, ISBN  978-0-8139-2966-8, 264 pages. A scholarly study of the magazine's rise as a cultural institution that uses the letters of its founders and its readers; argues that National Geographic encouraged readers to question Western values and identify with others.
  • Moseley, W.G. 2005. "Reflecting on National Geographic Magazine and Academic Geography: The September 2005 Special Issue on Africa" African Geographical Review. 24: 93–100.

External links