About the National Geographic Society

National Geographic Society headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Thiessen)

The mission of the National Geographic Society is to inspire, illuminate and teach. Throughout its 127-year history, it has encouraged conservation of natural resources and raised public awareness of the importance of natural places, the plants and wildlife that inhabit them and the environmental problems that threaten them. The Society also encourages stewardship of the planet through research and exploration and through education.

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society, one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations, has funded more than 11,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects around the globe. Past and current grantees include polar explorer Robert Peary; Hiram Bingham, excavator of the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu; anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey; mountain gorilla expert Dian Fossey; author and historian Stephen Ambrose; underwater explorer and discoverer of the sunken Titanic Robert Ballard; anthropologist Wade Davis; marine biologist Sylvia Earle; high-altitude archaeologist Johan Reinhard; and paleontologist Paul Sereno.

Through various media vehicles, including its official journal, National Geographic magazine, and other publications, its films, television programs, cable channel, radio, books, videos, maps and interactive media, the National Geographic Society reaches more than 600 million people a month. The Society's unending commitment to integrity, accuracy and excellence has positioned "National Geographic" as a benchmark brand and a leader in publishing, photography, cartography, television, research and education.


A view of Machu Picchu soon after discovery. National Geographic funds supported exploration and excavation of the legendary city, a place whose original purpose is still disputed. Photo by Hiram Bingham

Click here for a look back at milestones in National Geographic’s history.

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