Lanthanum (atomic number 57, symbol La) is a soft, ductile and malleable silvery-white element, which oxidizes rapidly in the air. It belongs to the lanthanide series and is usually found in combination with rare-earth elements such as cerium. Lanthanum is produced from bastnasite and monazite using sophisticated multi-stage extraction techniques.
The element was discovered by Carl Mosander in 1832 when the scientist decomposed cerium nitrate and treated and heated the salt using nitric acid. Mosander isolated a new element from the resulting solution and called it lantana. It was in 1923 when the element was isolated in pure form.