ANSWER: John was born to a woman in her old age named Elizabeth, who had been barren (Luke 1:36). She was a descendant of Israel's first high priest named Aaron (Luke 1:5) and a cousin of Jesus' mother Mary (Luke 1:36). Zacharias, the father, was a priest who served in Jerusalem's temple during Abia's course. This made John of priestly descent.
John was set apart by God to be a Nazarite even before his conception (Luke 1:15). His miraculous birth, occurring just six months ahead of Jesus', took place in the March to April time frame (at the same period of God's Feast Days known as Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread) in 5 B.C. Not only was his arrival a miracle, it was also a fulfillment of prophecies which spoke of a voice in the wilderness (John 1:19 - 23) who would come in the spiritual power of Elijah (Matthew 17:10 - 13).
Nazarites were those who were consecrated to serve God and who were generally separated themselves from other people. As a Nazarite John was required to not drink any wine or strong drink, and could not even eat grapes or anything that had grapes in it. He also had to refrain from cutting his hair. Additionally, He could not come near or touch a dead body, even if it was his mother or father (Numbers 6:2 - 21).
John the Baptist spent the early part of his life dwelling in the rough, mountainous tract of land that existed between the city of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea (see Matthew 3:1 - 12). During most of his adult life he lived in the wilderness, away from the cities (Luke 1:80). His clothing was rough, and his diet was strict (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).
God called John to prepare the people for Jesus' teaching and ministry. His ministry began when he was 30 years old (26 A.D.) and started to diminish when Jesus' ministry began. He was put in prison by Herod Antipas for speaking out against his marriage to his sister-in-law Herodias. He was ultimately beheaded by Herod in the Spring of 29 A.D., just before the Passover.
11 'Elijah is indeed coming first,' answered Jesus . . . 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come and people did not recognize him . . . 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist (Matthew 17:11 - 13).
God, in the very near future, will send not just one but two prophets to prepare the people for the second coming of Jesus Christ. You can read about them in the book of Revelation, chapter 11.