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Richard F. Burton

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Richard Francis Burton in 1864

Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) was a British explorer and translator.

He was able to speak at least 29 languages, one of the qualities that allowed him to more easily adopt the customs of the people of the places he visited. Disguised as a Muslim, he traveled to the holy city of Mecca, which was forbidden to non-Muslims.

He was also the first European man to travel to the holy city of Harar in Somalia.

He explored the Zanzibar area to study the local tribes. He fell ill during the trip, so he could not reach Lake Victoria, which was the then unknown source of the Nile River. Such an honor went to his traveling companion, Speke. What he did discover was Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa.

He made a well-known translation of the collection of short stories The Thousand and One Nights.