Born Apr. 18, 1822, in Bleicherode; died Sept. 25, 1878, in Gotha. German cartographer and geographer.
Petermann received his Ph.D. degree in 1854. In 1855 in Gotha he founded and became the editor of Mitteilungen aus Justus Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt, which became a leading journal of geography and cartography; it is published today in Gotha (German Democratic Republic) under the name Peter-manns Geographische Mitteilungen and is edited by Professor Ernst Neef. Petermann edited 24 annual issues of the journal and 56 supplementary issues. He helped compile many important cartographic works, including the atlases and maps in Peter-manns Geographische Mitteilungen. He organized expeditions to Africa, including one to Central Africa from 1849 to 1864 and one to the eastern Sudan and the middle Nile region from 1860 to 1863. A number of arctic expeditions between 1868 and 1874 were organized by Petermann, including those to Spitsbergen in 1868, the eastern coast of Greenland in 1869 and 1870, and Franz Josef Land in 1872 and 1874 (with J. von Payer).
Petermann hypothesized a “warm” North Polar Sea and the existence of land in the central arctic dividing the Arctic Ocean in two. In 1874, Payer sighted land to the north of Franz Josef Land and entered it on the map as Petermann Land, but no such land was found during the drift of the Russian ship Sv. Anna from 1912 to 1914 or by the group headed by the ship’s navigator, V. I. Al’banov. A mountain range in Australia and a mountain peak and a glacier in Greenland are named after Petermann.