National Geographic (magazine)
National Geographic, formerly The National Geographic Magazine, is the oﬃcial magazine of the
National Geographic Society. It has been published continuously since its ﬁrst issue in 1888, nine months after
the Society itself was founded. It primarily contains articles about geography, history, and world culture. The
magazine is known for its thick square-bound glossy format with a yellow rectangular border and its extensive use
of dramatic photographs.
The magazine is published monthly, and additional map
supplements are also included with subscriptions. It is
available in a traditional printed edition and through an
interactive online edition. On occasion, special editions
of the magazine are issued.
As of 2015, the magazine is circulated worldwide in
nearly 40 local-language editions and had a global circulation of 6.8 million per month. Its U.S. circulation is
around 3.5 million per month.
The current Editor-in-Chief of the National Geographic
Magazine is Susan Goldberg.
January 1915 cover of The National Geographic Magazine
Chris Johns is chief content oﬃcer. He oversees the print
and digital expression of National Geographic’s editorial
content across its media platforms. He is responsible for
National Geographic magazine, News, Books, Traveler
magazine, Maps and all digital content with the exception
of National Geographic Kids. He reports to Gary Evan
Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic SoAmong its more recent issues, the June 1985 cover porciety.
trait of 13-year-old Afghan girl Sharbat Gula became one
Terry B. Adamson, Executive Vice President of the So- of the magazine’s most recognizable images.
ciety and the Society’s chief legal oﬃcer, has overall reIn the late 1990s, the magazine began publishing The
sponsibility for the Society’s international publications,
Complete National Geographic, a digital compilation of
including the magazine. He also reports to Knell.
all the past issues 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 availability of the compilation.
The magazine eventually prevailed in the dispute, and in
The ﬁrst issue of National Geographic Magazine was pub- July 2009 it resumed publishing a compilation containlished in October 1888, nine months after the Society ing all issues through December 2008. The compilation
was founded. Starting with its January 1905 publica- was later updated to make more recent issues available,
tion of several full-page pictures of Tibet in 1900–1901, and the archive and digital edition of the magazine are
the magazine changed from being a text-oriented publi- available online to the magazine’s subscribers.
cation closer to a scientiﬁc journal to featuring extensive The magazine celebrated its 125th anniversary in October
pictorial content, and became well known for this style. 2013.
Editors-in-chief of the National
also many articles in the 1930s, 40s and 50s about the individual states and their resources, along with supplement
maps of each state. Many of these articles were written by
longtime staﬀ such as Frederick Simpich. There were
also articles about biology and science topics.
In later years articles became outspoken on issues such as
• John Hyde (October 1888-14 September 1900;
environmental issues, deforestation, chemical pollution,
Editor-in-Chief: 14 September 1900-February
global warming, and endangered species. Series of ar1903)
ticles were included focusing on the history and varied
• Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (1875-1966) (Editor-in- uses of speciﬁc products such as a single metal, gem, food
Chief: February 1903-20 January 1920; Managing crop, or agricultural product, or an archaeological disEditor: 14 September 1900-February 1903; Assis- covery. Occasionally an entire month’s issue would be
devoted to a single country, past civilization, a natural retant Editor: May 1899-14 September 1900)
source whose future is endangered, or other theme. In
recent decades, the National Geographic Society has un3.2 Editor and president of the National veiled other magazines with diﬀerent focuses. Whereas
in the past, the magazine featured lengthy expositions, reGeographic Society (1920-1967)
cent issues have shorter articles.
• Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (21 January 1920 – 5 May
• John Oliver LaGorce (1880-1959) (5 May 1954 – 8
• Melville Bell Grosvenor (1901-1982) (8 January
1957 – 1 August 1967)
• Frederick Vosburgh (1905-2005) (1 August 1967October 1970)
• Gilbert Melville Grosvenor (1931- ) (October 1970July 1980)
• Wilbur E. Garrett (July 1980-April 1990)
• William Graves (April 1990-December 1994)
• William L. Allen (January 1995-January 2005)
• Chris Johns (1951-) (January 2005–April 2014)
• Susan Goldberg (April 2014–present)
During the Cold War, the magazine committed itself to
presenting a balanced view of the physical and human
geography of nations 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
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. This standard makes it
the home to some of the highest-quality photojournalism
in the world. The magazine began to feature color photography in the early 20th century, when this technology was still rare. During the 1930s, Luis Marden
(1913–2003), a writer and photographer for National
Geographic, convinced the magazine to allow its photographers to use small 35 mm cameras loaded with
Kodachrome ﬁlm over bulkier cameras with tripods and
glass plates. In 1959, the magazine started publishing small photographs on its covers, later becoming
larger photographs. National Geographic photography
has quickly shifted to digital photography for both its
magazine on paper and its website. In subsequent years,
the magazine cover, while keeping its yellow border, shed
its oak leaf trim and bare table of contents, for a large
photograph taken from one of the month’s articles inside. Issues of National Geographic are often kept by subscribers for years and re-sold at thrift stores as collectible
back-issues. In 2006, National Geographic began an international photography competition with over eighteen
7 Language editions
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 world-renowned.
First Ukrainian National Geographic magazine presentation
• Srirangam Temple, India (National Geographic
Magazine November 1909)
In 1995, National Geographic began publishing in
Japanese, its ﬁrst local language edition. The maga• Pyramid of the Niches, El Tajin, (National Geo- zine is currently published in many language editions
graphic Magazine February 1913)
around the world, including English on a worldwide basis,
Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, traditional and simpli• Traditional butter making in Palestine, (National
ﬁed character Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch,
Geographic Magazine March 1914)
Estonian, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Greek,
• Spanish Gypsy (National Geographic Magazine Hebrew and an Orthodox Hebrew edition, Hungarian,
Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, LithuaMarch 1917)
nian, Norwegian, Polish, two Portuguese language edi• Kathmandu Market (National Geographic Magazine tions, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovene, two Spanish
language editions, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
• Bulgarian Muslims from Rhodopes (National Geo- Recently launched local-language editions: Lithuanian (October 2009), Arabic (October 2010, published
graphic Magazine October 1932)
in 15 countries across the Middle East and North
Africa), Estonian (October 2011), Georgian, Latvian and Mongolian (October 2012), Persian (November
6 Map supplements
2012), Ukrainian (March 2013, discontinued in January
2015), and Azerbaijani (September 2014).
Supplementing the articles, the magazine sometimes proIn April 2005, an Indonesian edition launched, published
vides maps of the regions visited.
by Gramedia Majalah. A Bulgarian edition of the magNational 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.
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.
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.
In 2001, National Geographic released an eight-CDROM set containing all its maps from 1888 to December
2000. Printed versions are also available from the National Geographic website.
azine published by a Sanoma Publishing joint venture
launched in November, 2005 and a Slovenian edition
published by Rokus launched in May, 2006. 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.
A Serbian edition of National Geographic was launched
with the November 2006 issue in partnership with a joint
venture of Sanoma and Gruner + Jahr.
In contrast to the United States, where membership in the
National Geographic Society was until recently the only
way to receive the magazine, the worldwide editions are
sold on newsstands in addition to regular subscriptions.
In several countries, such as Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia,
11 FURTHER READING
Turkey and Ukraine National Geographic paved the way
for a subscription model in addition to traditional newsstand sales.
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
 “National Geographic Magazines”.
nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
 Bryan, C.D.B, “The National Geographic Society, 100
Years of Adventure and Discovery,” Abrams Inc., New
 “Evolution of National Geographic Magazine” (PDF).
 The Complete National Geographic. ISBN 978-1-42629635-2.
 “Maps of the News – December 2009 Edition”,
The Oﬃcial National Geographic
Maps Blog, posted December 17, 2009, accessed at http://natgeomaps.blogspot.com/2009/12/
Between 1980 and 2011 the magazine has won a total of
24 National Magazine Awards.
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
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.
“Mahmoud, Abdullah (Sep 25, 2010)".
Beirutnightlife.com. 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
 National Geographic Press Room. “National Geographic
Launches Local-Language Edition in Iran – National
Geographic Society Press Room (Nov. 20, 2012)".
Press.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
• Asian Geographic
• Australian Geographic
• Canadian Geographic and Géographica in Canada
• Chinese National Geography (founded in 1949)
• GEO, Germany
• Vokrug sveta (Russian: Around the World)
• John Patric, Noted writer for National Geographic
during the 1930s and 1940s
 National Geographic Press Room. “National Geographic
and Garant Media Holding Introduce Local-Language
Edition of National Geographic Magazine in Azerbaijan
(Sep. 01, 2014)". Press.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
 Pérez-Peña, Richard. “National Geographic Wins 3
Awards, Honored Beyond Photography”. The New York
Times, May 2, 2008. Accessed January 8, 2010.
 “American Society of Magazine Editors database”. Magazine.org. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
11 Further reading
National Geographic Magazine”.
ngm.nationalgeographic.com. July 1, 2014. Archived
from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
 “AAM: Total Circ for Consumer Magazines”. abcas3.auditedmedia.com. Alliance for Audited Media. December 31, 2013. Archived from the original on April 18,
2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
 Celebrating 125 years
 “National Geographic Boilerplates”.
graphic. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
• Roger 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
• 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.
• Oﬃcial website
• All the Magazine’s covers published since 1888 until
the year 2000
TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES
Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses
• File:1915NatGeog.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/1915NatGeog.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Scanned by Infrogmation from a magazine in his own collection and uploaded to en:Wikipedia on 13:03, 14 January 2004.
Original artist: National Geographic Magazine
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• File:Taj_Mahal_1921.JPG Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Taj_Mahal_1921.JPG License: Public domain Contributors: From London to Australia by Aeroplane by Sir Ross Smith, <a href='//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/en:National_Geographic_
(magazine)' class='extiw' title='w:en:National Geographic (magazine)'>The National Geographic Magazine</a>, March 1921 Original artist:
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