Probably the most famous Italian explorer, Marco Polo was born in the Republic of Venice to a prosperous family of merchants. In 1271, his father, Niccolo, and his uncle, Maffeo, took young Marco with them on their second journey to China with an aim to deliver the Pope's response to Kublai Khan, the Mongolian military leader. During the next seventeen year in China, Marco Polo was sent on diplomatic missions throughout the empire, namely to the south, to Burma and Indo-China, to Tibet in the west, and as far in the north as the city of Karakorum. Apart from that, he was forced by Kublai Khan to be the governor of the commercial city of Yangzhoufor and he performed this duty for three years. When he finally returned to his home in Venice, he had supposedly travelled farther than anybody before him, from Acre on the coast of Palestine, through Persia and Turkistan, across the vast Gobi desert. Marco Polo's name has survived until this day and also serves as the name of the Venetian airport.
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