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David Livingstone Explores Southern Africa

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Livingstone's Travels

Scottish explorer David Livingstone, born in 1813, explored southern Africa on three different expeditions from 1841–1873. He journeyed there to bring Christianity, commerce, and civilization to the heart of the continent.

In 1841, Africa was a mystery to many Europeans. They thought of it as dry and infertile with little commercial value. However, Livingstone amazed them during his travels by sending back reports of a continent filled with lush forests, huge waterfalls, and massive grasslands. Initially, Livingstone’s goal was to convert Africans to Christianity. However, that soon gave way to exploration and the attempt to discover trade routes that could undercut and possibly end the slave trade.

Livingstone also covered a great deal of territory. In 1855, he explored the turbulent and wild waters of the Zambezi River, which funnels into a great waterfall. He named it the Victoria Falls in honor of his monarch, Queen Victoria. In addition, his journeys across sub-Saharan Africa were the first by a European and rank as one of the greatest land explorations in history.

During his travels, Livingstone survived a variety of hardships that killed many of his companions. Aside from the extreme heat, driving rain, and knee-deep mud, Livingstone suffered under the constant threat that the men traveling with him might mutiny and kill him. In addition, Livingstone battled repeated attacks of malaria. He also suffered from terrible headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea. In one three-year stretch, he endured 27 attacks of fever. Livingstone was even mauled by a lion, an attack that permanently damaged his left hand.

Livingstone died in 1873 at the end of his third expedition. By that time, he had influenced attitudes toward Africa all over the Western world. Despite traditional thinking of the time that European culture was superior, Livingstone truly believed in Africa’s ability to advance to the modern world.

Answer the following questions from the reading and map above.


Were any of Livingstone's explorations in the northern hemisphere? Explain.
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Name two lakes in eastern Africa that Livingstone explored.
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During which expedition did Livingstone travel on the ocean?
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What large river flowing into the Indian Ocean did he travel along?
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About how many miles did he travel from Port Elizabeth to Luanda to Quelimane?
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During which expedition did Livingstone cover the most territory and where did this journey take him?
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Describe some of the problems that Livingstone encountered on his travels.
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What were the three primary reasons that Livingstone undertook his journeys?
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