Encyclopedia > Lighthouse

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An aid for navigation at sea, a lighthouse is a tower building or framework sending out light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a burning fire. More primitive navigational aids were once used such as a fire on top of a hill or cliff, (see beacon). Because of modern navigational aids, the number of active lighthouses has declined to fewer than 1,500 worldwide. Lighthouses are used to mark dangerous coastlines, hazardous shoals away from the coast and safe entries to harbors. Lighthouses have become popular tourist destinations.

In the United States, lighthouses are maintained by the United States Coast Guard. In England, they are looked after by Trinity House.

Perhaps the most famous lighthouse in history is the Lighthouse of Alexandria, built on the island of Pharos[?] in ancient Egypt. The name of the island is still used as the noun for "lighthouse" in some languages, for example French (phare), Italian and Spanish (faro).

See also: List of lighthouses and lightvessels, lightvessel, Robert Louis Stevenson, Grace Darling, Jean Guichard[?]

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