Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen

Birthday :

May 5, 1833

Died On :

October 6, 1905

Also Known For :

Traveler, Scientist

Birth Place :

Pokój, Opole Voivodeship, Poland

Zodiac Sign :


Early Life And Education

Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen was born 5th May 1833, to Karl and Ferdinande von Richthofen. He was born in Calrsruhe, Prussian Silesia.

Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen completed his high school education at the Catholic Gymnasium in Breslau, and then went to the University of Berlin, from which he graduated in 1856.



In 1860, Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen joined the Eulenburg Expedition as a geologist. This was a diplomatic expedition conducted by Prussia and the German Customs Union, specifically to build relations with China, Japan, and Siam. He visited several countries as part of the expedition, including Japan, Taiwan, Ceylon, Siam, and the Philippines. Although not much work resulted from the travel, it did give Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen the interest to travel. He then went to the United States, where he was based between 1862 and 1868. He worked as a geologist, in the gold fields of California.

Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen then traveled to Asia, visiting China, Japan, Burma, and Java. As a follow-up to his travels, Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen published his finding in three volumes. The work was from a geological point of view and included geology, geography, economics, and an atlas. The work was titled, China: Ergebnisse Eigner Reisen und darauf gegrundeter Studien and was published in Germany.

In 1875, Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen was offered the position of Professor of Geology at the University of Bonn. He didn’t take up the position until 1879, due to his work commitments in China. In 1883 he then became Professor of Geography at the University of Leipzig, and then accepted a similar position in 1886 at the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin. He remained in this last position until his death. Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen had several notable students of geography, and he kept in touch with them.


Major Works

Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen was responsible for standardizing the practices of both choreography (describing and mapping a region), and chorology (understanding the character of a region).


Awards And Honors

1892:   Wollaston Medal
1903:   Vega Medal



Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen married Irmgard in 1879.

On a side note, he was also the uncle of the famous “Red Baron,” Manfred von Richthofen, who was an esteemed German fighter pilot.

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