Carl Peter Thunberg was born on November 11, 1743, in Jönköping, Sweden. As a student of Carl Linne, he studied medicine and natural phiosophy at the University of Uppsala. Carl Peter Thunberg defended his doctoral dissertation "De venis resorbentibus" in 1767. In 1770, he continued his studies in Paris, Amsterdam, and Leiden.
There Johannes Burmann, on the recommendation of Carl Linne, offered Thunberg the chance to visit the Dutch colonies and Japan, in order to gather plants for the botanical garden. Carl Peter Thunberg reached Capetown in April 1772, where he risked many dangers in order to complete his task of collecting plant samples. During a research stop in 1772, Carl Peter Thunberg received his doctorate in medicine. In 1775, he continued on his way to Java, where he spent two months visiting Batavia, Samarang, and Buitenzorg. He then went on to Japan. In that same year, he reached the Dutch East India Company in Deshima, an artificial island in the Bay of Nagasaki, where Carl Peter Thunberg worked as a surgeon until 1776. After short stops in Java, Colomb, Ceylon, and Capetown, he arrived in Amsterdam in 1778. He visited London before finally returning to his homeland. There he made the acquaintance of Joseph Banks, visited the collection of Japanese plants of the German natural scientist Engelbert Kaempfer, and met Johann Reinhold Foster. Arriving in Sweden in 1779, Carl Peter Thunberg learned of the death of his teacher Carl Linne. He was soon named lecturer for botany and was appointed professor for medicine and natural philosophy at his home university in Uppsala in 1784. Carl Peter Thunberg held this position until his death on August 8, 1828, in Thunaberg near Uppsala.