Humboldt, Alexander von
German naturalist (1769-1859)
Alexander von Humboldt's five-year expedition to South America is world
famous: together with the Frenchman Aimé Bonpland, he travelled thousands of
miles, sailing a pirogue down the Orinoco river, which they proved to be connected
to the Amazon river basin by a natural channel.
The men traversed jungle, climbed high mountains, and visited a great number of
countries. On their way, they collected data not only on new plants, animals
and volcanoes, but also on weather conditions and their influence on the
Returning with a treasure-trove of information, the duo published their discoveries between 1805 and 1834 in thirty volumes under a single title, Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, fait en 1799-1804. The last section under this title comprises eighteen volumes on botany. After his return Von Humboldt lived in Paris for a time, travelling to Berlin only in 1827. Two years later he travelled to Russia in the company of the naturalist Ehrenberg, this time for an exhausting trip covering over 10,000 kilometres.
In Kosmos, a five-volume work, Von Humboldt developed his view that the world is a coherent entity regulated by inner forces.