History of European exploration in Tibet

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**12th–16th centuries:**
– Benjamin of Tudela, 1160: Earliest European reports of Tibet
– Louis IX emissary, 1253: First diplomatic mission to Mangu Khan
– Friar William of Rubruck: Described Tibetan rituals and garments
– Odoric of Pordenone, 1325: First European claim to visit Tibet
– Fra Mauro map, 1459: Tibet’s location known

**17th century:**
– António de Andrade and Manuel Marques, 1624: First documented Europeans in Tibet
– Jesuits João Cabral and Estêvão Cacella, 1628: Established missions in Tibet
– Jesuits Johannes Grueber and Albert Dorville, 1661: Traveled from Peking to Agra via Lhasa
– George Bogle: Welcomed by the Panchen Lama in Shigatse
– Missions evacuated in 1635 due to sect rivalry

**18th century:**
– Ippolito Desideri, 1716: Italian Jesuit who explored Tibet
– Capuchins: Sole Christian missionaries in Tibet, expelled in 1745
– George Bogle: Welcomed by the Panchen Lama at Tashilhunpo in Shigatse

**19th century:**
– Nain Singh, 1865-1875: Conducted secret surveys of Tibet for the British
– Nicholas Przewalski, 1879-80: Russian explorer in northern Tibet
– Sven Hedin, 1893-35: Swedish explorer who mapped large parts of Tibet
– Dr. Susie Rijnhart, 1898: Canadian missionary who attempted to reach Lhasa
– Japanese explorer Ekai Kawaguchi, 1899: Disguised as a Chinese monk to enter Tibet

**20th century:**
– British explorers Frederick Bailey and Henry Morshead, 1913: Unauthorised exploration of Tsangpo Gorge
– German expedition led by Ernst Schäfer, 1938-39: Scientific exploration in Tibet
– Tourist statistics, 2009: 5.6 million tourists visited Tibet, spending ¥5.6 billion
– British Mount Everest reconnaissance expeditions in 1921 and 1935
– Russian explorers Tsybikov and Norzunov, 1900: First photographers of Lhasa

The location of Tibet, deep in the Himalaya mountains, made travel to Tibet extraordinarily difficult at any time, in addition to the fact that it traditionally was forbidden to all western foreigners. The internal and external politics of Tibet, China, Bhutan, Assam, and the northern Indian kingdoms combined rendered entry into Tibet politically difficult for all Europeans. The combination of inaccessibility and political sensitivity made Tibet a mystery and a challenge for Europeans well into the 20th century.

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