From the world's mightiest and most elusive creatures, to spectacular landscapes in the farthest flung corners of the globe, National Geographic has been capturing the wonder and diversity of our planet and its inhabitants for more than a century.
The publication is now celebrating its landmark 125th anniversary with a showcase of some of the most iconic and recognizable images to have graced its pages over the years.
The stunning series of photographs span decades and continents, from a trio of men on camels in the shadow of Egypt's pyramids in 1938, to the arresting beauty of a young Afghan refugee captured on camera in Pakistan in 1985.
King of the jungle: A mighty lion finds a place for a nap amid the branches of a tree in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, where the creatures are often spotted sleeping high above the ground in fig trees. Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world.It has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects around the globe.
The magazine is celebrating its 125th anniversary
Having started out as a scholarly journal in the 19th Century, the magazine has evolved into a publication that shines a spotlight on distant corners of the globe for millions of readers, with its combination of breathtaking photography and on-the-ground reporting.
Steve McCurry's photograph of young Afghan refugee Sharbat Gula is perhaps the image most associated with National Geographic.
Sharbat, whose piercing green eyes captured the attention of the globe when her solemn face appeared on the cover of the magazine in 1985, was around 12-years-old and living in Pakistan when the picture was taken during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
For years she was known simply as 'the Afghan Girl', until the photograph's striking subject was formally identified in 2002.
A look back through the National Geographic photo archives offers a glimpse into landmark moments in the history of countries around the world.
One 1963 image features two members of the first U.S. team to reach the summit of Mount Everest trudging through the dazzling white snow as they make their ascent.
The American expedition was sponsored in part by the National Geographic Society, and pioneered a new route to the summit of one of the world's most daunting peaks.
But it is not always humans that feature in the journal's most spectacular photographs.
In many of National Geographic's stunning pictures, it is animals, not people, that take centre stage.
Photographer Paul Nicklen managed to capture a rare 'spirit bear' enjoying a feast of salmon in the rainforest in British Columbia in 2010.
Also known as the Kermode bear, the elusive creature is a variant of the North American Black Bear that is born with white fur.
Another picture reveals an enormous lion, lit up in the African dusk, stares down the lens of the camera as it prepares to bed down for a sleep amid the branches of a fig tree in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park.
One heart-warming photograph, which captures a fleeting moment of contact between Jane Goodall and a baby chimpanzee, reveals the bond that can exist between animals and humans.
Photographer Hugo Van Lawick snapped the photograph as the chimp, which was named Flint, reached out to Jane at Gombe Stream National Park in western Tanzania.
Now 78, British primatologist Jane famously spent 45 years studying the interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania.
Spectacular setting: Members of the first American team to reach the summit of Nepal's Mount Everest are seen making their ascent through the snow in 1963
Rare creature: The spirit bear - or Kermode bear - is a variant of the North American black bear that has white fur, like this creature photographed feasting on salmon in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia in 2010
Landmark: In this iconic 1938 image, three figures astride camels behold the majesty of the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Frozen in history: This shot of Afghan men gathered at a bazaar in Herat in 1931, left, was photo-journalist Maynard Owen-Williams' favourite image, while the piercing eyes of refugee Sharbat Gula, right, for years known only as the 'Afghan Girl', captured the attention of the world when they featured on the cover of the magazine in 1985
Visible bond: Primatologist Jane Goodall and tiny chimpanzee Flint share a touching moment at Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania, East Africa. The fleeting scene was captured on camera in 1964
The ice maiden: The 500-year-old mummy of a young Inca girl was unearthed on Mount Ampato in Peru in 1995 by archaeologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Johan Reinhard
More than a century of exploration: The National Geographic-Army Air Corps balloon, Explorer II, prepares to take to the skies over South Dakota, U.S., in 1935, left, while the image on the right shows one of 11 colossal stone heads discovered in Mexico in 1938 during an expedition led by archaeologist Matthew Stirling
This past year has been rich in memorable images, the best among them capturing the essence of the human experience and nature at its most powerful.
Like every year, National Geographic Magazine has compiled the most evocative images of 2012 into one impressive gallery which showcases traditions of indigenous peoples from around the world, the underwater life of marine mammals and natural phenomena.
One photo taken in a remote Russian community shows a father, Aidyng Kyrgys, caressing his newborn baby girl, whom he lovingly refers to as 'my little goat' in the ancient but dying Tuvan language which only has 223,000 speakers.
Another image, taken closer to home on a Native American reservation, shows a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe squeezed into the back of a car for the journey home along with used clothing donated by an Indian charity that seek to help those in need in the community.
On the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota, a photographer captured a shaman performing an ancient ritual involving a long-nosed white mask as he burns sage for purification.
Among the images in the Best of 2012 – National Geographic Magazine Photos of the Year slideshow is an awe-inspiring photo taken in California's Sierra Nevada depicting a majestic, snow-covered 3,200-year-old sequoia called the President which measures 247 feet in height and has the widest crown in the forest.
Photographer Paul Nicklen was lucky to snap a picture of Emperor penguins just a tenth of a second before they got spooked and took off, leaving only bubbles in their wake.
Awe-inspiring: A dying tornado like this one depicted in July is said to be in the 'roping out' phase
Majestic: Cloaked in the snows of California's Sierra Nevada, the 3,200-year-old giant sequoia called the President rises 247 feet
Swift: A school of Emperor penguins swimming away in a flurry of bubbles after being spooked by a photographer
Dying language: Aidyng Kyrgys caresses his newborn baby girl, whom he refers to using a Tuvan term of endearment: anayim, or 'my little goat'
Ancient ritual: Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings while using a mask to channel the power of a spirit
National Geographic announced their 2011 global-wide photography contest awarding not only a warm financial prize to its three winners but world-wide publication in their magazine.
The winners were taken from digital submissions on three categories of people, places and nature while judged by three National Geographic photographers.
The judges gave equal weight to both creativity and photographic quality when the deciding the winners, including the grand prize, first place winner to a photo of a dragonfly.
Winner: Splashing, the grand prize winning photo as well as Nature category winner, was taken in the city of Batam in Indonesia's Riau Islands
The water flinging dragonfly photo titled Splashing, was captured by Shikhei Goh, a photographer in Indonesia's Riau Islands while they were both caught in a sudden downpour.
It was described as a 'very striking macrophotography image that rose to the top of the nature category for me because of its originality, beautiful light, rare action in a close-up image, as well as its technical perfection,' according to judge Tim Laman to the National Geographic.
According to judge Peter Essick, he said that the photograph gave the insect 'character us humans can relate to.'
'It's rare indeed to see a photograph that causes the viewer to feel a bond with a member of the animal world seemingly,' Mr Essick told the magazine, 'but maybe not, so unlike our own.'
Glowing: Blue Pond & First Snow, by Kent Shiraishi, captured a famous tourist resort in Japan for the nature category's honorable mention as the hot spring ripples below white-frosted trees
Floating: The Sunrising Jellyfish, by Angel Fitor, received honorable mention in nature as it's caught just beneath the water's surface in Murcia province, Spain
Running: Photo, Panic in the Pan, by Marius Coetzee was taken during a safari in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park at a watering hole
Chase: Photo, The Hunt, by Stefano Pesarelli received honorable mention for its natural use of panning and balance in its capture of a scene at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
In the places category, a photo titled Into the Green Zone won for its capture of a rainbow bending over a smooth ocean at the Philippines' Onuk Island.
According to Mr Laman, the photographer George Tapan 'showed a perfect sense of timing and composition in the way he captured the two small human subjects in this beautiful scene, and that really made the shot.'
Mr Essick noted his captivation of the woman's hair over her shoulder as it, 'fills a fraction of the picture's real estate, but by capturing the movement at the apex, the photographer has documented a sense of style and flair.
'Small things can sometimes make a big difference,' he finished.
Winner: Into the Green Zone, by George Tapan, captured a rainbow after the rain at the Palawan Islands in the Philippines, winning the category of Places
Jumping: Photo, Sulfuric Fire Festival, by Hung-Hsiu Shih received honorable mention for its capture of fire fishing in Taipei
Flying: Flying Kites, by Felipe Carvalho, received honorable mention for its capture of a kite battle at the Santa Marta ghetto in Rio de Janeiro which for many years were used to alert drug dealers of approaching enemies
Falling: Anuar Patjane's Cyber Monsoon received honorable mention for its capture of a torrential monsoon rain in Bhaktapur, Nepal
Soaring: Waterway to Orbit, by James Vernacotola, displays the Space shuttle Endeavour flying into orbit over the Intracoastal Waterway in Ponte Vedra, Florida
For the category of People, a photo titled The Fjellman Family by Izabelle Nordfjell captures a Swedish reindeer hunter seeking food for his family using a rifle.
According to judge Amy Toensing, the photo captured a quick moment 'real and mysterious at the same time.'
'In the Sami culture,' Mr Essick added, referring to the hunter, 'these events are repeated many times every year, even though they are never quite the same. However, by using a careful composition and skillful timing, the photographer made this one encounter with a Sami hunter memorable.'
Winner: People category winner titled The Fjellman Family, by Izabelle Nordfjell, describes in one shot, literally and physically, one method of feeding a family in northern Sweden before a long winter
This weekend, the 180th Oktoberfest opened in Munich, Germany, with the traditional tapping of the first keg of beer by Munich's mayor, Christian Ude, shouting "O'zapft is!" ("It's tapped!"). The Bavarian festival takes place in Munich's Theresienwiese over 16 days, and more than 6 million people are expected to attend.
A waitress carries beer mugs through a crowd on the opening day of the Oktoberfest at the Hofbräu Tent in Munich, Germany, on September 21, 2013. Oktoberfest, which this year will run from September 21 through October 6, is the world's largest beer fest and draws millions of visitors. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Munich Mayor Christian Ude taps the first barrel of beer during the opening ceremony of the 180th Oktoberfest in Munich, on September 21, 2013. (Reuters/Michaela Rehle) #
Julius Danek from Munich jumps as he runs inside the Schottenhamel tent to get a seat on the opening day of Oktoberfest, on September 21, 2013. (Reuters/Michaela Rehle) #
Thousands of people await the start of the opening ceremony of the 180th Oktoberfest, on September 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Revellers reach for the first beer mug at the Hofbräu Tent during day 1 of Oktoberfest at Theresienwiese, on September 21, 2013.(Johannes Simon/Getty Images) #
A waiter carries Bavarian food at the Oktoberfest 2013 beer festival in the Schottenhamel-tent at Theresienwiese, on September 21, 2013. (Joerg Koch/Getty Images) #
Visitors raise their glasses after getting their first Oktoberfest beer in the Schottenhamel-tent at Theresienwiese, on September 21, 2013. (Joerg Koch/Getty Images) #
A woman enjoys the first beer on the opening day of Oktoberfest in the Hofbräu Tent, on September 21, 2013.(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
Visitors enjoy amusement rides in front of the famous backdrop of Munich Frauenkirche at the Oktoberfest 2013 beer festival.(Joerg Koch/Getty Images) #
Visitors walk through fairgrounds at sunset, during Oktoberfest 2013 in Munich, Germany. (Joerg Koch/Getty Images) #
People enjoy an amusement park ride during day 1 of Oktoberfest 2013. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
A long exposure photo shows a ride spinning at the Oktoberfest festival fairgrounds in Munich, on September 21, 2013.(Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) #
The top of the Loewenbräu beer tent, during Oktoberfest at Theresienwiese on September 21, 2013.(Johannes Simon/Getty Images) #
Revellers dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing attend Oktoberfest on September 21, 2013.(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
People enjoy a fairground ride during day 1 of the Oktoberfest 2013 beer festival. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
A waitress serves beer during the opening of Oktoberfest in Munich, on September 21, 2013.(Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) #
People visit a festival tent during the Oktoberfest beer festival, on September 21, 2013. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) #
A waitress carries chicken dishes during the opening ceremony in the Hofbräuzelt beer tent, on September 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Women celebrate the opening ceremony of Oktoberfest in the Hofbräuzelt beer tent, on September 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
A visitor rests in a meadow during the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese fairgrounds in Munich, on September 21, 2013. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) #
Young women in traditional Bavarian Dirndl dresses enjoy a fairground ride at the Theresienwiese fairgrounds in Munich, on September 21, 2013. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) #
Visitors wearing traditional Bavarian clothes in the Hacker-Pschorr tent at Oktoberfest 2013, on September 22, 2013.(Johannes Simon/Getty Images) #
Revellers stand next to a broken beer mug during day 1 of Oktoberfest, on September 21, 2013.(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
Visitors have a rest during day 1 of Oktoberfest 2013, on September 21, 2013 in Munich, Germany.(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
A child takes pictures during day 1 of Oktoberfest 2013. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) #
A boy in traditional Bavarian Lederhosen (leather trousers) eats cotton candy at the Oktoberfest beer festival, on September 21, 2013. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images) #
A young man raises a beer mug at the Hofbräuhaus beer tent during day 1 of Oktoberfest 2013, on September 21, 2013.(Johannes Simon/Getty Images) #
Visitors rest in a meadow on the opening day of the 180th Oktoberfest, on September 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
People ride a swing in front of the St. Paul's church during Oktoberfest 2013, on September 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Visitors wearing traditional Bavarian clothes enjoy drinking beer in the Hacker-Pschorr tent at the Oktoberfest 2013 beer festival, on September 22, 2013. (Johannes Simon/Getty Images) #
A visitor wearing a mock Bavarian outfit leans against a wall during Oktoberfest 2013, on September 22, 2013.(Johannes Simon/Getty Images) #
Young people celebrate the opening ceremony of Oktoberfest in the Hofbräuzelt beer tent, on September 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Visitors enjoy the Oktoberfest 2013 beer festival at Theresienwiese on September 21, 2013 in Munich, Germany.(Joerg Koch/Getty Images)