No photos, no yellow border, lots of geography: The first issue of National Geographic magazine, published in September and October 1888.

Photograph courtesy the National Geographic Society

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  • On September 22, 1888, the National Geographic Society published the first issue of National Geographic magazine. Today, National Geographic magazine is known for insightful articles, photography, and maps about the world’s cultures and terrain.
    Although National Geographic is famous for its outstanding photography, the first issue did not have any photographs at all! National Geographic was a text-based scientific journal about geography until 1905, when the magazine published a photo essay on Tibet. The magazine’s first map supplement was published in 1918.
    Today, National Geographic is published in more than 30 languages around the world, including Japanese (the first local-language edition) and Ukrainian (the most recent local-language edition, first published in 2013).
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    culture Noun

    learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

    geography Noun

    study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    Encyclopedic Entry: geography
    insight Noun


    local Adjective

    having to do with the area around a specific place.

    map Noun

    symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

    Encyclopedic Entry: map
    National Geographic Society Noun

    (1888) organization whose mission is "Inspiring people to care about the planet."

    photo essay Noun

    group of photographs, accompanied by minimal text, that tell a coherent story.

    photography Noun

    art and science of producing still or moving images using the chemical reaction of light on a sensitive surface, such as film or an electronic sensor.

    publish Verb

    to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

    scientific journal Noun

    magazine that focuses on developments in scientific research.

    supplement Noun

    additional feature.

    terrain Noun

    topographic features of an area.