David Livingstone (lĬv´Ĭngstən, –stōn´), 1813–73, Scottish missionary and explorer in Africa, the first European to cross the African continent. From 1841 to 1852, while a medical missionary for the London Missionary Society in what is now Botswana, he crossed the Kalahari desert and reached (1849) Lake Ngami. He discovered the Zambezi River in 1851. Hoping to abolish the slave trade by opening Africa to Christian commerce and missionary stations, he traveled (1853) to Luanda on the west coast. Following the Zambezi River, he discovered and named Victoria Falls (1855) and reached the east coast at Quelimane, Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique), in 1856. His Missionary Travels (1857) in South Africa is an account of that journey. Appointed British consul at Quelimane, he was given command of an expedition (1857–63) to explore the Zambezi region.
Livingstone returned to England (1864) and with his brother Charles wrote The Zambezi and Its Tributaries (1865). In 1866 he returned to Africa to seek the source of the Nile. He discovered lakes Mweru and Bangweula and in 1871 reached the Lualaba tributary of the Congo River. Sickness compelled his return to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika, where the journalist H. M. Stanley found him in 1871. Unable to persuade Livingstone to leave, Stanley joined him on a journey (1871–72) to the north end of Lake Tanganyika. In 1873 Livingstone died in the village of Chief Chitambo. African followers carried his body to the coast; it was sent to England and buried in Westminster Abbey. Livingstone's last journals were edited by Horace Waller (1874).
There are some 100 biographies of Livingstone; among them are those by J. Simmons (1955, repr. 1962), G. Martelli (1970), T. Jeal (1973), and O. Ransford (1978).