Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Halford Mackinder was an English geographer, politician, and academic. He is considered one of the founding fathers of geostrategy as well as geopolitics. Mackinder’s work helped establish geography as a separate discipline in the UK. An influential academic, Halford Mackinder held important positions in popular universities, including the University Extension College and the London School of Economics.
Richard Francis Burton was a British explorer, soldier, and scholar. He is best remembered for his explorations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Along with John Hanning Speke, Burton was the first European to witness the Great Lakes of Africa. A prolific writer, Burton wrote several scholarly articles about numerous subjects like sexual practices, falconry, human behavior, travel, and ethnography.
British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace is largely remembered for his theory of evolution through natural selection, which inspired Charles Darwin’s studies. He began his career as a surveyor’s apprentice and later introduced concepts such as reinforcement in animals, also known as the Wallace effect. He was awarded the Order of Merit.
George Everest was a British geographer and surveyor. From 1830 to 1843, he served as Surveyor General of India. His work and contributions were honored by naming Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, after him.
Douglas Mawson was an Australian Antarctic explorer, geologist, and academic. Counted among the most important leaders of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Mawson was honored with a knighthood in 1914. Best remembered for his contribution to Australian geology, Mawson was featured on the Australian one-hundred-dollar note from 1984 to 1996.
American astronomer, naval officer, oceanographer and author Matthew Fontaine Maury, who first served the United States Navy and then the Confederacy States Navy, made significant contributions in oceanography. His book Physical Geography of the Sea is counted among the first comprehensive books on oceanography. Navies and merchant marines across the world adopted his uniform system of recording oceanographic data.
Friedrich Ratzel was a German ethnographer and geographer. He was the first person to use the term Lebensraum, which would later become an important and popular word among the National Socialists. Also an influential writer, Friedrich Ratzel's works served as a justification for imperial expansion.
14 Sven Hedin
Sven Hedin was a Swedish topographer, geographer, photographer, explorer, illustrator, and travel writer. He is best known for making four expeditions to Central Asia. He later shared his experience in a book titled From Pole to Pole. A respected explorer, Hedin was honored with several prestigious awards and medals during his lifetime.
Elisee Reclus was a renowned French geographer, writer, and anarchist best known for his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes ("Universal Geography"). He received the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work in 1892. He opposed cruelty to animals and advocated nature conservation. He was also a proponent of naturism.
Nikolay Przhevalsky was a Russian imperial geographer. A renowned explorer of Central and East Asia, he traveled through regions then unknown to the West. He is credited to have made a substantial contribution to European knowledge of Central Asian geography. However, despite his attempts, he could never reach his ultimate goal, the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet.
Australian-born British explorer and ornithologist Hubert Wilkins is best remembered for pioneering the use of the submarine for polar exploration. While he initially studied photography and engineering, he later embarked on the world’s first transpolar airplane flight across the Arctic and the first over parts of Antarctica.
James Rennell was an English historian and geographer. A pioneer of oceanography, Rennell is often referred to as the Father of Oceanography. Rennell, who served as a Surveyor General of Bengal, India, is credited with producing some of the earliest accurate maps of Bengal. James Rennell is also credited with co-founding the Royal Geographical Society in London in 1830.
Ernst Georg Ravenstein was a German-English cartographer and geographer. His efforts to introduce scientific methods in cartography in the United Kingdom earned him the first Victoria gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society. Ernst Georg Ravenstein is also credited with establishing a sporting association in London called the German Gymnastics Society in 1861.
Ferdinand von Mueller was a German-Australian geographer, physician, and botanist. He is credited with founding the National Herbarium of Victoria, the oldest scientific institution in Victoria. He is also credited with naming several Australian plants. Such is his popularity that many plants, animals, journals, and places in Australia are named after him.
Ferdinand von Richthofen, also known as Baron von Richthofen, was a German geographer who discovered quite a few places in and around China, thus contributing to his book China, the Results of My Travels and the Studies Based Thereon. He worked on chorography and chorology and also developed geomorphology.
Roland Bonaparte was the grandson of Lucien Bonaparte, who was the brother of Emperor Napoleon I. A geographer and photographer, he was part of the research on the Sami community of Norway and the Australian Aborigines. He also headed the Société de Géographie and the Société Astronomique de France.
27 James Croll
Argentine explorer Francisco Moreno, better known as Perito Moreno, is remembered as one of his country’s greatest heroes. His explorations helped define the border of Chile. He discovered Patagonian treasures such as Mount Fitz Roy and established Argentina’s first national park, Nahuel Huapi. His accolades include the Cullum Geographical Medal.
French explorer and mathematician Joseph Nicollet had begun his career as a math teacher at age 19. Faced with financial issues, he later moved to the U.S., where he was financially helped by a wealthy family. His exploration of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers helped him chart maps of the region.
32 Lev Berg
Joachim Lelewel was a Polish historian, bibliographer, geographer, politician, and polyglot. He is credited with co-founding the Democratic Society for Unity and Brotherhood of All Peoples along with Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx in 1847. Joachim Lelewel is also credited with strongly influencing the Russian revolutionary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.
Erich von Drygalski was a German geographer, polar scientist, and geophysicist. He is best remembered for leading two expeditions to explore the unexplored area of Antarctica in the early 1890s with the help of the Society for Geoscience of Berlin. Erich von Drygalski also served as a professor of geophysics and geography in Berlin.
Conrad Malte-Brun was a Dano-French journalist and geographer. Malte-Brun is best remembered for coining the name Indo-China as well as the name Oceania, a geographic region that includes Melanesia, Micronesia, Australasia, and Polynesia, around 1812. Conrad Malte-Brun is also known as the father of Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, who was also a famous geographer.
German anthropologist and historical-geographer Berthold Laufer who virtually remained the only sinologist working in the US for over three-decades, made significant contributions in shedding light on the attributes of the Chinese and Tibetan culture. He served as the curator of Asiatic Ethnology and Anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, and made major contributions to its collections.
German geographer and geologist Albrecht Penck is noted for exercising a major influence on the development of modern German geography and also for his research that confirmed the four ice ages of the European Pleistocene (Gunz, Mindel, Riss, Würm). He co-authored Die Alpen im Eiszeitalter with Eduard Bruckner, which served as a standard reference on the ice ages for many decades.
43 Carl Humann
Carl Humann, one of the 19th century self-made archaeologists who never studied archaeology nor did any advanced degree in the field, rose to prominence after he discovered the Pergamon Altar that is counted among the finest examples of Hellenistic sculpture. His excavation of the ancient Greek city of Pergamum also brought to light much about Hellenistic city planning.
Italian explorer Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti was the first person from Europe to cross the Somali peninsula. An illegitimate son of a landowner, he was raised by his mother. Initially interested in civil engineering, he later deviated toward geography and geology, even learning languages such as Arabic and German.
Being the son of a physician, geographer Gerhard Rohlfs was expected to take up medicine but was more interested in exploring uncharted territories and thus joined the French Foreign Legion. Best known for his journeys across North Africa, he had initially learned Arabic to travel to Morocco disguised as an Arab.
German ethnologist Robert Fritz Graebner is known as a pioneering figure of the Vienna School of Ethnology and promoted the theory of Kulturkreise, or culture complex. During World War I, he was interned in Australia as an enemy but utilized his time in studying the different types of culture there.
Aaron Arrowsmith was an English cartographer, publisher, and engraver. Aaron, who belonged to the famous Arrowsmith family of geographers, is best remembered for producing the maps of Scotland and North America, which are counted among his most celebrated productions.