Royal Dutch Geographical Society

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The Royal Dutch Geographical Society, or Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (KNAG) in Dutch, is an organization of geographers and those interested in geography in The Netherlands. It has about 4000 members and sponsors lectures on geography. It publishes a scientific magazine, Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie (Journal of Economic & Social Geography)[1] and Nederlandse Geografische Studies or NGS (Dutch Geographical Studies). It also has a large collection of about 135,000 maps and 4500 atlases which have been housed at a library at the University of Amsterdam since 1880.


The organization was founded in 1873 after the founding of comparable organizations in France in 1821 (Société de Géographie) and the United Kingdom in 1830 ( Royal Geographical Society). Pieter Johannes Veth was the first chairman of the KNAG. It organized several expeditions to Surinam, islands in the Dutch Indies archipelago, South Africa and even to visit the indigenous tribes in North America. Most expeditions consisted of scientists from different disciplines, a photographer and a naval officer. Sometimes a larger military contingent was necessary if the expedition was travelling to a more dangerous area.

The members of the organization were not just scientists. The political elite and the commercial elite (bankers, factory owners, ship owners and captains of merchant ships) were members. It had an economic agenda as well as a scientific mission.

As Dutch colonies became independent, the work of the KNAG focused less and less on economic issues, and became more and more concerned with scientific questions. The Dutch East Indies became independent in 1949 and Netherlands New Guinea became independent in 1962. The last expedition of the KNAG was in 1959 to Netherlands New Guinea.


  1. ^ Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie (Journal of Economic & Social Geography), Edited by: Bouke van Gorp (Executive Editor) and Frank van Oort (Editor-in-Chief), Wiley Publishing website

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