Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west and shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east.
Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. The name of the country is derived from the Namib Desert, considered to be the oldest desert in the world.
Agriculture, herding, tourism and mining of precious stones and metals form the backbone of Namibia's economy.
Namibia is a large, and sparsely populated country, ( 2.1 million people) which has enjoyed more than a decade of stability since achieving Independence on 21 March 1990.
It is the second least densely populated country in the world, after Mongolia.
Although not as well known as some of its African neighbours, Namibia is a gem for those in search of the wilderness. The most visited places include the Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast Park, Sesriem, Etosha Pan and the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.
Essentially a desert country, Namibia offers contrasting landscapes.
The desolate Namib Desert is said to be the oldest in the world, with its high dunes and awe-inspiring sense of space. The central plateau, with its thorn bush savannah and rugged mountainsrising abruptly from the plains, gives way to the majestic Fish river Canyon in the south.
In the north of the country, landscapes range from dense bush and open plains of the great Etosha Pan, to woodland savannah and lush vegetation.
The Etosha national park, the third largest in Africa, owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 5 000km². A series of waterholes along the southern edge of the pan guarantee rewarding and often spectacular game viewing.
Germanic influence can still be found in the country's good road infrastructure, well-equipped rest camps throughout the country and most cities' architecture.
The perfect choice for nature lovers and amateur photographers alike.
The Namibian Tourism Accommodation Industry is rich in diversity, ranging from one- to four-star hotels, pensions, guest-farms, lodges, restaurants, rest camps, Bed & Breakfasts and Self-catering establishments.
The wide variety of establishments across Namibia enable tourists to make their choices based not only on the prices or rates charged, but also on the level of infrastructure, services and added activities offered by the establishments. It is fair to say, that the Namibian Tourism Accommodation Industry has something to offer for every taste and pocket.
With its pleasantly warm and dry climate, clean air, good water and an unspoilt coast, vast untouched scenery and nature conservation areas, and excellent infrastructure, Namibia is healthy by nature and sheer bliss for body and soul.
A tarred road runs from the south through Upington in South Africa to Grünau, where it connects with the tarred road from Cape Town. The trans-Kalahari highway, which was completed in 1998, links Walvis Bay and Windhoek with Gaborone, Botswana and Gauteng, South Africa.
The trans-Caprivi highway runs through the Caprivi strip and via Botswana into Zimbabwe.
Intercape Mainliner runs direct overnight services from Windhoek to Cape Town four times a week, as well as services to Johannesburg via Upington. Other bus services go to Botswana and Zambia.
The cold Benguela current keeps the coast of the Namib Desert cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year, with a thick coastal fog. Inland, rain falls in summer. Summer temperatures are high while the altitude means that nights are cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.
The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib Desert, the Great Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.
The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coast to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east.
The Central Plateau is home to the highest point in Namibia at Königstein elevation 2,606 meters (8,550 ft). Within the wide, flat Central Plateau is the majority of Namibia’s population and economic activity.
Windhoek, the nation’s capital, is located here, as well as most of the arable land.
Although arable land accounts for only 1% of Namibia, nearly half of the population is employed in agriculture
The Namib Desert is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along the entire coastline, which varies in width between 100 to many hundreds of kilometres. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast.
The sands that make up the sand sea are a consequence of erosional processes that take place within the Orange River valley and areas further to the south. As sand-laden waters drop their suspended loads into the Atlantic, onshore currents deposit them along the shore.
The prevailing south west winds then pick up and redeposit the sand in the form of massive dunes in the widespread sand sea, the largest sand dunes in the world. In areas where the supply of sand is reduced because of the inability of the sand to cross riverbeds, the winds also scour the land to form large gravel plains.
In many areas within the Namib Desert, there is little vegetation with the exception of lichens found in the gravel plains, and in dry river beds where plants can access subterranean water.
The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over 2,000 meters (6,562 ft). Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase as you move further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish. Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is nonetheless significantly more productive than the Namib Desert.
As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation. The water, along with rapidly changing topography, is responsible for the creation of microhabitats which offer a wide range of organisms, many of them endemic.
Vegetation along the escarpment varies in both form and density, with community structure ranging from dense woodlands to more shrubby areas with scattered trees. A number of Acacia species are found here, as well as grasses and other shrubby vegetation.
The Bushveld is found in north eastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Caprivi Strip which is the vestige of a narrow corridor demarcated for the German Empire to access the Zambezi River.
The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water. Located adjacent to the Bushveld in north-central Namibia is one of nature’s most spectacular features: the Etosha Pan.
For most of the year it is a dry, saline wasteland, but during the wet season, it forms a shallow lake covering more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,317 sq mi).
The area is ecologically important and vital to the huge numbers of birds and animals from the surrounding savannah that gather in the region as summer drought forces them to the scattered waterholes that ring the pan.
The Bushveld area has been demarcated by the World Wildlife Fund as part of the Angolan Mopane woodlands ecoregion, which extends north across the Cunene River into neighbouring Angola.
The Kalahari Desert is perhaps Namibia’s best known geographical feature. Shared with South Africa and Botswana, it has a variety of localized environments ranging from hyper-arid sandy desert, to areas that seem to defy the common definition of desert.
One of these areas, known as the Succulent Karoo, is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; fully one third of the world’s succulents are found in the Karoo.
The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation. The Karoo apparently does not experience drought on a regular basis, so even though the area is technically desert, regular winter rains provide enough moisture to support the region’s interesting plant community.
Another feature of the Kalahari, indeed many parts of Namibia, are inselbergs, isolated mountains that create microclimates and habitat for organisms not adapted to life in the surrounding desert matrix.
Namibia’s Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. Its sand dunes, created by the strong onshore winds, are the highest in the world. The Namib Desert and the Namib-Naukluft National Park is located here.
The Namibian coastal deserts are one of the richest source of diamonds on earth. It is divided into the northern Skeleton Coast and the southern Diamond Coast. Because of the location of the shoreline—at the point where the Atlantic's cold water reach Africa—there is often extremely dense fog.