The Most Famous

EXPLORERS from Germany

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This page contains a list of the greatest German Explorers. The pantheon dataset contains 405 Explorers, 23 of which were born in Germany. This makes Germany the birth place of the 7th most number of Explorers behind Russia and Portugal.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary German Explorers of all time. This list of famous German Explorers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of German Explorers.

Photo of Martin Behaim

1. Martin Behaim (1459 - 1507)

With an HPI of 75.13, Martin Behaim is the most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages on wikipedia.

Martin Behaim (6 October 1459 – 29 July 1507), also known as Martin von Behaim and by various forms of Martin of Bohemia, was a German textile merchant and cartographer. He served John II of Portugal as an adviser in matters of navigation and participated in a voyage to West Africa. He is now best known for his Erdapfel, the world's oldest surviving globe, which he produced for the Imperial City of Nuremberg in 1492.

Photo of Carsten Niebuhr

2. Carsten Niebuhr (1733 - 1815)

With an HPI of 69.48, Carsten Niebuhr is the 2nd most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Carsten Niebuhr, or Karsten Niebuhr (17 March 1733 Lüdingworth – 26 April 1815 Meldorf, Dithmarschen), was a German mathematician, cartographer, and explorer in the service of Denmark. He is renowned for his participation in the Royal Danish Arabia Expedition (1761-1767). He was the father of the Danish-German statesman and historian Barthold Georg Niebuhr, who published an account of his father's life in 1817.

Photo of Heinrich Barth

3. Heinrich Barth (1821 - 1865)

With an HPI of 69.03, Heinrich Barth is the 3rd most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Johann Heinrich Barth (; German: [baʁt]; 16 February 1821 – 25 November 1865) was a German explorer of Africa and scholar. Barth is thought to be one of the greatest of the European explorers of Africa, as his scholarly preparation, ability to speak and write Arabic, learning African languages, and character meant that he carefully documented the details of the cultures he visited. He was among the first to comprehend the uses of oral history of peoples, and collected many. He established friendships with African rulers and scholars during his five years of travel (1850–1855). After the deaths of two European companions, he completed his travels with the aid of Africans. Afterwards, he wrote and published a five-volume account of his travels in both English and German. It has been invaluable for scholars of his time and since.

Photo of Adam Olearius

4. Adam Olearius (1603 - 1671)

With an HPI of 67.81, Adam Olearius is the 4th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Adam Olearius (born Adam Ölschläger or Oehlschlaeger, 24 September 1599 – 22 February 1671) was a German scholar, mathematician, geographer and librarian. He became secretary to the ambassador sent by Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, to the Shah of Safavid Persia (Iran), and published two books about the events and observations during his travels.

Photo of Hans Staden

5. Hans Staden (1525 - 1579)

With an HPI of 67.11, Hans Staden is the 5th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Hans Staden (c. 1525 – c. 1576) was a German soldier and explorer who voyaged to South America in the middle of the sixteenth century, where he was captured by the Tupinambá people of Brazil. He managed to survive and return safe to Europe. In his widely read True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil, he claimed that the native people that held him captive practiced cannibalism.

Photo of Philip Johan von Strahlenberg

6. Philip Johan von Strahlenberg (1676 - 1747)

With an HPI of 67.06, Philip Johan von Strahlenberg is the 6th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Philip Johan von Strahlenberg (1676–1747) was a Swedish officer and geographer of German origin who made important contributions to the cartography of Russia.

Photo of Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg

7. Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg (1873 - 1969)

With an HPI of 65.17, Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg is the 7th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Adolf Friedrich Albrecht Heinrich, Duke of Mecklenburg (German: Adolf Friedrich Albrecht Heinrich, Herzog zu Mecklenburg; 10 October 1873 – 5 August 1969), was a German explorer in Africa, a colonial politician, the elected duke of the United Baltic Duchy from 5 November to 28 November 1918, and the first president of the National Olympic Committee of West Germany (1949–1951).

Photo of Gustav Nachtigal

8. Gustav Nachtigal (1834 - 1885)

With an HPI of 65.14, Gustav Nachtigal is the 8th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Gustav Nachtigal (pronounced [ˈɡustaf ˈnaxtɪɡal]; born 23 February 1834 – 20 April 1885) was a German military surgeon and explorer of Central and West Africa. He is further known as the German Empire's consul-general for Tunisia and Commissioner for West Africa. His mission as commissioner resulted in Togoland and Kamerun becoming the first colonies of a German colonial empire. The Gustav-Nachtigal-Medal, awarded by the Berlin Geographical Society, is named after him.

Photo of John Sutter

9. John Sutter (1803 - 1880)

With an HPI of 64.63, John Sutter is the 9th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

John Augustus Sutter (February 23, 1803 – June 18, 1880), born Johann August Sutter and known in Spanish as Don Juan Sutter, was a Swiss immigrant of Mexican and American citizenship, known for establishing Sutter's Fort in the area that would eventually become Sacramento, California, the state's capital. Although he became famous following the discovery of gold by his employee James W. Marshall and the mill-making team at Sutter's Mill, Sutter saw his own business ventures fail during the California Gold Rush. Those of his elder son, John Augustus Sutter Jr., were more successful.

Photo of Julius Klaproth

10. Julius Klaproth (1783 - 1835)

With an HPI of 64.36, Julius Klaproth is the 10th most famous German Explorer.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Heinrich Julius Klaproth (11 October 1783 – 28 August 1835) was a German linguist, historian, ethnographer, author, orientalist and explorer. As a scholar, he is credited along with Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat, with being instrumental in turning East Asian Studies into scientific disciplines with critical methods.

Pantheon has 23 people classified as explorers born between 1459 and 1877. Of these 23, none of them are still alive today. The most famous deceased explorers include Martin Behaim, Carsten Niebuhr, and Heinrich Barth. As of October 2020, 4 new explorers have been added to Pantheon including Hans Staden, Julius Klaproth, and Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser.

Deceased Explorers

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Newly Added Explorers (2020)

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Which Explorers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 16 most globally memorable Explorers since 1700.