Anton Friedrich Büsching (1724-1793), German theologian and geographer, was born at Stadthagen in Schaumburg-Lippe, on the 27th of September 1724. In 1748 he was appointed tutor in the family of the count de Lynars, who was then going as ambassador to St Petersburg. On this journey he resolved to devote his life to the improvement of geographical science. Leaving the count's family, he went to reside at Copenhagen, and devoted himself entirely to this new pursuit. In 1752 he published his Description of the Counties of Schleswig and Holstein. In 1754 he removed to Göttingen, where in 1757 he was appointed professor of philosophy; but in 1761 he accepted an invitation to the German congregation at St Petersburg. There he organized a school which, under him, soon became one of the most flourishing in the north of Europe, but a disagreement with Marshal Münich led him, in spite of the empress's offers of high advancement, to return to central Europe in 1765. He first went to live at Altona; but next year he was called to superintend the famous "Greyfriars Gymnasium" (Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster), which had been formed at Berlin by Frederick the Great. He died of dropsy on the 28th of May 1793, having by writing and example given a new impulse to education throughout Prussia. While at Göttingen he married the poetess, Christiana Dilthey.
Büsching's works (on geography, history, education and religion) amount to more than a hundred. The first class comprehends those upon which his fame chiefly rests; for although he did not possess the genius of D'Anville, he may be regarded as the creator of modern Statistical Geography. His magnum opus is the Erdebeschreibung, in seven parts, of which the first four, comprehending Europe, were published in 1754-1761, and have been translated into several languages (e.g. into English with a preface by Murdoch, in six volumes, London, 1762). In 1768 the fifth part was published, being the first volume upon Asia, containing Asiatic Turkey and Arabia. It displays an immense extent of research, and is generally considered as his masterpiece. Büsching was also the editor of a valuable collection entitled Magazin für d. neue Historie und Geographie (23 vols. 4to, 1767-1793); also of Wochentl. Nachrichten von neuen Landkarten (Berlin, 1773-1787). His works on education enjoyed great repute.
In biography he wrote a number of articles for the above-mentioned Magazin, and a valuable collection of Beiträge zur Lebensgeschichte merkwürdiger Personen (6 vols., 1783-1789), including an elaborate life of Frederick the Great.