Georg Hartmann, geographer and explorer, was educated at the Realgymnasium and the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. He continued his studies in mathematics, physics and geography at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and was awarded the doctoral degree in 1889. An early paper by him dealt with the influence of drifting ice on the configuration of the ground in polar regions (1891). In 1893 he came to German South West Africa (now Namibia) and travelled overland to Cape Town. He was an agent of the South West Africa Company (formed in 1889 to pursue mining interests in the territory), the Kaoko Land- und Minengesellschaft, and the Gibeon Schuerf- und Handelsgesellschaft. During the next few years he undertook three expeditions to the Kaokoveld, in the north-west of Namibia, visiting this largely unexplored region in 1894, 1895/6, and 1900. He also travelled through Ovamboland and southern Angola to Mossamedes, and in 1898 took part in an expedition to the Sandveld, the coastal region between the Berg and Olifants Rivers on the Cape west coast. During 1906-1907 he took part in a mining expedition to Gibeon, Namibia. For a number of years he settled at Grootfontein to plan the development of the area under the South West Africa Company's control. Here he met the Trek Boers who had come from the Transvaal in 1893 to settle, and gave them assistance.
Hartmann described his expeditions and experiences in a number of publications that together constituted a significant contribution to geographical knowledge of Namibia. Four of these dealt with the Kaokoveld: " Das Kaokogebiet in Deutsch-Suedwestafrika..." (Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft fuer Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1897), an excellent study of the physical and cultural geography of the region; Meine Expedition 1900 ins noerdliche Kaokofeld und 1901 durchs Amboland... (Berlin, 1902, 29 pp.), in which he refers to the flora, fauna and topography, and gives special attention to the future prospects of the territory; "Beitrag zur Hydrographie und Orographie des noerdlichen Kaokofeldes" (F. Ratzel-Gedenkschrift, Leipzig, 1904), dealing with the hydrography and topography of the region; and "Die erste kartographische Aufnahme des Kaokoveldes" (Deutsche kolonialzeitung, 1914). Two papers dealt with Ovamboland: "Das Amboland" (Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft fuer Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1897); and "Das Amboland auf Grund meiner letzten Reise im Jahre 1901" (Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fuer Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1902), the latter presenting much information on the territory in the form of a technical narrative. Also of geographical interest are his Karte des noerdlichen Teiles von Deutsch-Suedwestafrika, a map of northern Namibia (from the coast to 18 degrees East; 17 to 21 degrees South) on a scale of 1:300 000, compiled for the South West Africa Company and printed on six sheets (Hamburg, 1904); and a later description of the topography and geological structure of Namibia (1910).
During 1900-1908 Harmann collected plants in Great Namaqualand, Hereroland and Ovamboland, and received some plants from A. Wulfhorst* and Reverend M. Rautanen*. His specimens went to Berlin.
He was interested also in the political status and future of the territory and expressed his views in several lectures and papers. These dealt with the political and economic relationships between the German territory and South Africa (1899), the Anglo-Boer War (1900), the future of the territory in the light of problems relating to its settlement and native inhabitants (1904), and the native question in South Africa and the German territory (1910). After World War I (1914-1918) he wrote Der untergang des deutschen volkes als franzoeische prophezeihung; eine soziologische studie (Berlin, 1919). He is commemorated in the name of the Hartmann Mountains in north-west Namibia. Hartmann's mountain zebra, Equus zebra hartmannae, a Namibian sub-species, was named after him by P. Matschie in 1898.
Hartmann was married to Anna Woerman, with whom he had four children.