Famous Geographers

Famous People Who Studied Geography and Geographers of Renown

Prince William
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge walk down Kuniya Walk at the base of Uluru on April 22, 2014 in Ayers Rock, Australia. Getty Images

There are a few famous people who studied geography and then moved on to other things after obtaining a degree. There are also a few notable geographers within the field who have made names for themselves within and outside the discipline.

Below, you'll find a listing of famous people who studied geography and famous geographers in their own right.

Famous People Who Studied Geography

The most famous former geography student is Prince William (the Duke of Cambridge) of the United Kingdom who studied geography at the University of St.

Andrews in Scotland; having switched from studying the history of art. He received his Scottish master's degree (the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree) in 2005. Prince William utilized his navigational skills to serve in the Royal Air Force as a helicopter pilot.

Basketball great Michael Jordan graduated with a degree in geography from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1986. Jordan took several courses in the regional geography of the Americas.

Mother Teresa taught geography at covenant schools in Kolkata, India before she founded the Missionaries of Charity.

The United Kingdom (where geography is a very popular university major) claims two additional famous geographers. John Patten (born in 1945) who was a member of Margaret Thatcher's government as Education Minister, studied geography at Cambridge. 

Rob Andrew (born 1963) is a former England Rugby Union Player and Professional Rugby Director of the Rugby Football Union who studied geography at Cambridge.

From Chile, former dictator Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) is usually cited as a geographer; he wrote five books on geopolitics, geography, and military history while associated with Chile's Military School.

Hungarian Pál Count Teleki de Szék [Paul Teleki] (1879-1941) was a university professor of geography, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungarian Parliament, and Prime Minister of Hungary 1920-21 and 1939-41.

He wrote a history of Hungary and was active in Hungarian scouting. His reputation is not great since he governed Hungary during the ramp-up to WWII and was in power when anti-Jewish laws were enacted. He committed suicide over disputes with the army.

Russian Peter Kropotkin [Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin] (1842-1921), a working geographer, secretary of the Russian Geographical Society in the 1860s, and, later, anarchist and communist revolutionary.

Famous Geographers

Harm de Blij (1935-2014) was a famous geographer known for his studies in regional, geopolitical and environmental geography. He was a prolific author, a professor of geography and he was the Geography Editor for ABC’s Good Morning America from 1990 to 1996. Following his stint at ABC, de Blij joined NBC News as a Geography Analyst. He is best known for his classic geography textbook Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts.

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was described by Charles Darwin as "the greatest scientific traveler who ever lived." He is widely respected as one of the founders of modern geography. Alexander von Humboldt's travels, experiments, and knowledge transformed western science in the nineteenth century.

William Morris Davis (1850-1934) is often called the "father of American geography" for his work in not only helping to establish geography as an academic discipline but also for his advancement of physical geography and the development of geomorphology.

The ancient Greek scholar Eratosthenes is commonly called the "father of geography" for he was the first to use the word geography and he had a small-scale notion of the planet that led him to be able to determine the circumference of the Earth.