Humboldt Expedition to America

Did you know that Alexander von Humboldt was one of the first to voice the opinion that the continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once a joined land mass?

Alexander von Humboldt from BHL.

Alexander von Humboldt was a German scientist and traveler with a cosmopolitan education and a wide range of interests. Together with a French botanist Bonpland, von Humboldt arrived at Cuman, Venezuela on June 4th, 1799. They travelled along the Orinoco River to its confluence with the Atabapo River. In November 1800, they sailed to Havana and explored all over Cuba. In March 1801, they continued to Cartagena, Colombia. Along the Rio Magdalena River, they travelled to Honda and Bogota in Colombia and further to Quito, Eduador. They investigated the western slopes of the Peruvian Andes and travelled all the way to the Pacific Ocean. After a stay in Lima, Peru, they journeyed from Calla to Acapulco in Mexico, where they arrived in March 1803. They spent an entire year exploring Mexico, travelling mainly through volcanic mountain ranges. In 1804, they returned to Cuba. In 1804, they returned to Europe via the United States.

Humboldt from Europeana - image is under CC BY-NC-ND of The Royal Library: The National Library of Denmark and Copenhagen University Library.

Humboldt became the founder of volcanology; the science of terrestrial magnetism, geobotany and climatology as part of which he first proposed the concept of isotherms. He devoted himself to the study of volcanic peaks. During one expedition, Humboldt (together with Bonpland) climbed Chimborazo to over 5,000 meters. Several places are named in honour of Humboldt including two bays in California and New Guinea, two mountain ranges in central Asia and Nevada, a lake and river in Nevada, a glacier in northwest Greenland, a current in the Pacific Ocean and many cities in America.

Learn more about Humboldt and other expeditions in Biodiversity Library Exhibition. Stay tuned!