The institute was founded in its current form in 1992; its beginnings reach back to 1896. Back then, the Leipzig-based Museum for Ethnology exhibited the collection of the geologist Alphons Stübel; in 1907 this museum went independent as the Museum for Regional Geography. The institution established itself and, from the 1930s onwards, the museum was also a research institute.
Starting in 1950, under the management of Edgar Lehmann, the geographer and cartographer, the German Institute for Regional Geography developed into the German Democratic Republic’s central geographical research institute. From 1976 on, the organization bore the title of the Institute for Geography and Geoecology (IGG) within the GDR Academy of Sciences.
After the IGG was dissolved, and after being successfully evaluated, the Institute for Regional Geography was newly founded, commencing on 1 January 1992. It has been at its current site at Leipzig-Paunsdorf since 1996; the organization’s name was extended in 2003, becoming the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography.