16 Amazing things that you didn’t know about Namibia


To mark Namibian Independence Day (March 21), here are a few things you might not know about the stunning southern African nation:

1. There's a lot of space

The name 'Namib' translates as "vast place", which is given Namibia is one of the least crowded destinations on the planet. Only Greenland, the Falkland Islands, Mongolia and Western Sahara (in that order) have fewer people per square kilometer.

2. Nearly half of the country is protected

Namibia takes conservation seriously. Indeed more than 40% of the country is under conservation management. African country to incorporated environmental protection into its constitution. Hence its bountiful wildlife.

3. It's one of only two African countries with a female leader

Namibia elected its first female leader in 2015. Saara Kuugongelwa is the country's fourth prime minister and one of only two female leaders on the continent; the other being Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is the President of Liberia.

4. More cheetahs live there than anywhere else

Namibia is the place to go - for is home to the world's largest population of free-roaming cheetahs. Etosha National Park is probably the best place to see them, though eagle-eyed visitors might spot them throughout the country.

5. It has Hollywood connections

Namibia's dramatic landscapes, which range from desolate to shimmering salt pans, including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Flight of the Phoenix (2006) ). Watch | Mad Max Fury Road: Official Trailer 02:55

6. It was formerly known as South West Africa

The country became Namibia in 1990 when it was granted independence from South Africa, which had taken over the territory during the First World War. Prior to that the occupied territory where they committed what is considered the "first genocide of the 20th century", killing tens of thousands of Herero and Nama tribespeople during their brutal occupation. The German government formally apologized for the genocide in 2004.

7. The German's inspired subversive tribal dress

In what is considered a mass act of subversion, some Herero men and women continue to dress like the German colonialists who tried to eradicate them. Tribesmen and women still clinging to the 19th-century apparel supporters.

8. There's an intriguing story behind the country's shape

Ever wondered why Namibia has that weird panhandle? Well, when the United Kingdom and Germany were carving up southern Africa they struck a deal: the former would give the dairy what's now known as the Caprivi Strip, in exchange for land elsewhere. The Germans accepted, believing the panhandle would give them access to the Zambezi River and a route to Africa's east coast. There was just one problem: the world's largest waterfall, Victoria Falls, lay in the way. The Germans, it transpired, had signed a bum deal.

9. It's home to the world's oldest desert

We're talking about the Namib Desert, which, at 80 million years old, is the most ancient desert on the planet.

10. It has the highest sand dunes ...

Namibia lays claim to the highest sand dunes in the world. Rising dramatically from the Namib Desert, impressive mound - known, rather boringly, as Dune 7 - reportedly tops out at 388m. As a point of reference consider this: The Shard in London is 310m tall.

11. And the largest underwater lake

Dubbed Dragon's Breath Cave - this is the gargantuan grotto is home to the largest non-subglacial lake in the world. Discovered in 1986, the cave can, alas, be explored by professionals because of its treacherous typography.

12. There's an eerie ghost town ...

Once a well-heeled mining town, Kolmanskop was abandoned in the Thirties when the diamond rushed prospectors elsewhere. The Namib Desert slowly started to reclaim the outpost middle-nowhere, which is now a popular tourist attraction.

13. And a spooky Skeleton Coast

Few places provide such a stark reminder of the power of nature than Namibia's Skeleton Coast; a brutal place where the roaring swell of the Atlantic Ocean crashes into the vast nothingness of the Namib Desert. The coast here is littered with rusting shipwrecks, which were surrendered to the desert by the broiling swell of the sea.

14. The capital has some interesting street names

The highways of Windhoek pay homage to both communist dictators and controversial African presidents with the likes of Fidel Castro Street and Robert Mugabe Avenue.

15. Pedestrians can be breathalysed

Pedestrians in Namibia were recently warned not to drink and walk after it was revealed they would be involved in a collision with a vehicle. The Windhoek City Police announced it would start treating pedestrians in the same way as they would drive drivers to crack down on alcohol-related accidents.

16. It's one of the thirstiest nations in Africa

Namibia is one of the thirstiest nations in Africa, according to the World Health Organization. By its reckoning only Gabon and South Africa record higher rates of alcohol consumption - although it must be said Namibians tuck away much less than per capita than most European nations.