Ibn Batuta (ĭˈbən bätōˈtä) [key], 1304?–1378?, Muslim traveler, b. Tangier. No other medieval traveler is known to have journeyed so extensively. In 30 years (from c.1325) he made a series of journeys recorded in a dictated account. He traveled overland in North Africa and Syria to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Afterward he visited Arabia, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Asia Minor. He made a journey by way of Samarkand to India, where he resided for almost eight years at the court of the sultan of Delhi, who sent him to China as one of his ambassadors. Ibn Batuta visited the Maldives, the Malabar coast, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Sumatra. He returned c.1350 to Tangier. Later he went to Spain, then to Morocco, and from there he crossed the Sahara to visit Timbuktu and the Niger River. Batuta is still considered a most reliable source for the geography of his period and an authority on the cultural and social history of Islam. For annotated selections from his writings, see Travels of Ibn Battūta (tr. by H. A. R. Gibb, 3 vol., rev. ed. 1958–71).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.