In 1901 the Sociedad Geográfica de Madrid, created in 1876, was granted by King Alfonso XIII the rank of royal society.
Like many other 19th-century European geographical societies, it was born in close relation to the political power. In fact, many other members were well-known politicians, among them several Prime Ministers as well as all kind of public men and scientists (geographers, cartographers, engineers, historians, geologists, etc.) engineers or army officers. At present, with around 400 members, the Real Sociedad Geográfica (R.S.G.) keeps sharing with the historic one a similar composition of their members and an extensive idea of the geographic knowledge.
From its beginnings, the (R.S.G.) collaborated actively with European and American geographers and was one of the seven societies that incorporated the International Geographical Union in 1922 acting from then as IGU’s Spanish Committee. In 1996 the Spanish Committee has been enlarged with other nationwide and regional geographical bodies and entities. There are such an ex officio permanent member of the R.S.G. as the Instituto Geográfico Nacional, and other State specialised and related to geography bodies (Cartography, Geology, Oceanography) beside the Instituto de Economía y Geografía (High Council for Scientific Research).
Such a wide and large network of scientific and institutional relations has bloomed into an intense geographic diffusion in meetings, congresses, courses, conferences and publications. In the early years since its creation in 1876, the Society took part in relevant discoveries and land penetration actions in the African spanish-influenced eastern coast (Morocco, West Sahara and the Gulf of Guinea). After this colonial concern for enlarging the world, in the first decades of the 20th century the Society was increasingly aware of Spain’s needs for improvement and paying attention to it
The Real Sociedad Geográfica’s activity in its more than 125 years of history has left as a precious inheritance an excellent specialised library, with more than 11,000 books, 12,700 booklets and 110 Spanish and foreign geographical journals, plus a large map collection with more than 700 maps, many of them dated in the 18th and 19th centuries and a few of them manuscript. This bibliographic and cartographic treasure is permanently hosted and accessible in the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid. The Real Sociedad Geográfica is proud of its journal, Boletín de la Real Sociedad Geográfica, the oldest geographical journal published in Spain since 1876 . The most relevant geographers, historians, economists, geologists and many other specialists have been edited in it. The result of the Real Sociedad Geográfica’s publishing activity are around 50 books on subjects related to discoveries, expeditions and scientific travels, including the contributions of spanish geographers to several congresses and scientific meetings.
Boletín de la Real Sociedad Geografica
The Boletín covers the many subjects of field research, carried out by the society’s members. Consequently, the normal issues contain mostly contributions coming from academic geographers but are also devoted to Cartography, the Economy, the Natural Sciences and History as well. Occasionally issues have paid attention to specific topics such as: natural parks or South-American cities and publications are normally linked to such events as congresses or centenaries.