The National Geographic Society (NGS), one of the world's largest educational and scientific organisations, celebrated a gigantic landmark recently - a 125th anniversary.

The magazine was founded on 13 January in Washington by a group of more than 30 people, including geographers, lawyers, financiers and cartographers. The first issue of the magazine was published the same year, featuring a report on The Classification of Geographic Forms by Genesis. Since then, the organisation has funded more than 10,000 research, conservation and exploration projects around the world.

To celebrate this momentous landmark, the society hosted a live Google+ event, where people from across the world could interact with explorers from each of the seven continents. In addition, the National Geographic magazine has released 15 of the most iconic photographs that have come to define the legacy of the organisation and the publication.

The society's expansive timeline and highlights include Steve McCurry's photograph of a young Afghan refugee, Sharbat Gula, who would become the poster girl in the campaign to end the horror and brutality of armed conflict. Her photograph, taken in 1985, appeared on the cover of the June issue.

A similarly touching photograph captured the magic of pure innocence... the fleeting moment when mankind drops pretensions of superiority and bonds with the living beings it shares the Earth with. The photograph showed legendary primatologist Jane Goodall reaching out to a young chimpanzee at Tanzania's Gombe Stream Reserve, taken by Hugo van Lawick in 1964.

See more stunning images from National Geographic...

A close-up of an African lion... and he seems annoyed (Credit - Marco Ruiz/National Geographic My Shot/National Geographic Stock)Marco Ruiz/National Geographic
An iconic aerial shot of Machu Picchu, a pre-Columian Inca ruin located in the Andes mountains. (Credit - Ira Block/National Geographic Stock)Ira Block/National Geographic
Patterns in cirrus clouds over Candian skies. (Credit - Nick Norman/National Geographic Stock)Nick Norman/National Geographi
A black and white photograph that captures the history and ancestry of Ancient Egypt. (Credit - Joe Enenbach/National Geographic Stock)Joe Enenbach/National Geograph
Lying cosily against a stone structure and eyeing visitors, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Credit - George Barker/National Geographic Stock)George Barker/National Geogra
A sperm whale floating near the surface of the of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California. (Credit - James Forte/National Geographic Stock)James Forte/National Geographi
One of the most famous photographs ever... the haunting image of a young woman whose life was torn apart by war. (Credit - Steve McCurry/National Geographic Magazine, June 1985)Steve McCurry/National Geograp
A waterfall from the icecap on Nordaustlandet in the Svalbad region of Norway. This is the longest glacier front in the Arctic. (Credit - Keenpress/National Geographic Stock)Keenpress/National Geographic
"This shot was taken in the beautiful Himalayas. We were told that there was heavy rain four hours before. This grass was still holding droplets of the shower. It looks like mirror image of alphabet 'R'." (Credit - Nitin Prabhudesai/National Geographic Stock)Nitin Prabhudesai/National Geo
The photographer called this a "lucky shot" and said he "just happened to catch the mandibular motion at the right time". (Credit - Matthew Zhang/National Geographic My Shot/National Geographic Stock)Matthew Zhang/National Geograp