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National Geographic magazine’s distinctive yellow border is a familiar sight. It offers readers a portal to explore the farthest reaches of the Earth and beyond. Yet there is even more to National Geographic magazine than this—an extraordinary purpose that has driven the magazine and its readership for over 130 years.

Since 1888, National Geographic has been igniting the explorer in all of us with a determined commitment to furthering our understanding of the world. Our founders, including Alexander Graham Bell, understood the power of great storytelling to spark curiosity, solve big problems, and push the boundaries of knowledge, and so in October 1888 they printed a 50-cent journal with a plain brown cover. Since then, National Geographic magazine has grown to become the global mouthpiece for the National Geographic Society—a community of bold people with an insatiable curiosity and a passion for exploring and protecting the planet. The magazine and the society are inextricably linked in a unique and powerful partnership that shapes the way people think about the world and themselves.

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Through the pages of the magazine, readers have uncovered the mysteries of Machu Picchu with Professor Hiram Bingham, explored the world’s oceans with the legendary Jacques Cousteau, fallen in love with chimpanzees through Jane Goodall’s pioneering studies, and dived into the darkness of the icy Atlantic with Robert Ballard in his quest for the Titanic. National Geographic not only reported these extraordinary stories but actually made them happen. The magazine has helped to fund each of these great adventures, because proceeds from its sale are ploughed back into the non-profit National Geographic Society. This creates a virtuous cycle of storytelling and philanthropy by which more than 13,000 National Geographic grants have been given to explorers, scientists, conservationists, photographers, and storytellers. The work of these grantees work makes a tangible difference to the world, from the Big Cats Initiative that is preserving the populations of big cats in the wild, to the Pristine Seas project, which has helped protect more than 4.5 million square kilometres of the ocean’s last wild places.

Most recently, National Geographic has launched Planet or Plastic?, a multiyear initiative aimed at raising awareness of the dangers that single-use plastics pose to our oceans. As a global brand with a rich history of scientific exploration and discovery, we are uniquely positioned to tackle this crisis through storytelling and science. And National Geographic is doing its part, U.S and U.K. subscribers now receive the magazine in a paper wrapper, saving more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bags every month.

National Geographic magazine is the very definition of journalism with purpose. Our planet is at a crossroads, and we are driven by the urgent need to encourage a path that leads to balance. That is why every copy of every issue of National Geographic magazine matters. Each month we reach millions of people of all ages and backgrounds across 172 countries in 33 languages—not only to inform and delight but also to challenge, question, and inspire change. Looking again at the iconic yellow border of National Geographic magazine, there is so much more than meets the eye.

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