Namibia is an African country where you can freeride in the dunes

Namibia a country in Southwest Africa

Dunes, Namibia

Dunes, Namibia. The author of the photo is Robert Marchant.

Namibia is a state in the southwest of the African continent that gets its name from the coastal Namib Desert, which occupies a large part of its territory. The country, which is one of the poorest in Africa, is famous for its rich deposits of the purest diamonds. National parks where you can see rare animals in their natural habitat have made Namibia a popular destination for world tourism.

History

In ancient times, the territory of Namibia was inhabited by tribes who lived off gathering and hunting. Later, nomadic cattle ranchers came to the region. Colonization of Namibia by Europeans began in the late 19th century when a large part of Namibia was annexed by the British to the Cape Colony.

In 1883, the German Adolf Luderitz was able to buy a large tract of land on the Atlantic coast from an African tribe, giving the chief as payment for the goods, which cost no more than a hundred pounds sterling, and two hundred rifles. Seven years later a treaty was concluded between England and Germany, under which the lands of the future Namibia were placed under German control. The territory was named German Southwest Africa.

German authorities facilitated the relocation of white settlers who occupied the land of local tribes. The actions of the Germans displeased the indigenous people of Africa. In 1904 and 1907 there were uprisings of Africans that were brutally suppressed by the colonists.

Germany’s defeat in World War I led to the loss of control of the African colony, which was taken over by the Union of South Africa (UAS). In the early twenties, the League of Nations gave the SAS a mandate to govern the region. After the first interstate organization ceased to exist, the SAC, which had by then declared itself the Republic of South Africa, refused to return the mandate. South Africa continued to control Namibia, establishing an apartheid regime there. The Namibian territory served as a buffer zone to protect the republic, where the white minority was in power, from hostile Black African states.

South Africa agreed to leave the occupied territory only in 1988, and two years later the former colony was officially proclaimed an independent state of Namibia.

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Elephants, Namibia

Elephants, Namibia. The author of the photo is Nedko Nedkov.

Modernity

Today’s Namibia is a presidential republic with a bicameral parliament. The country is home to 2.5 million people, approximately 14% of whom are infected with human immunodeficiency virus. The country has the fifth highest HIV prevalence rate in the world. Average life expectancy is 64.5 years.

The majority of the population are members of the tribes that have inhabited the territory since ancient times. The share of the white population, whose ancestors are from Germany, Great Britain, and other European countries, does not exceed 6%.

English is considered the official language in the country. However, it is spoken by only 7% of the population. For the vast majority of Namibians native languages are Oshivambo and Afrikaans.

The predominant religion in Namibia is Christianity. Eight out of ten Namibians consider themselves followers of Christ.

More than 20% of able-bodied people are unemployed and 13.4% of the population lives on less than $1.9 a day. Nonetheless, the standard of living of Namibians has been rising steadily in recent years. The welfare state is also benefiting from increased literacy – Namibia has committed itself to improving the education of its people. The country ranks ninth in the world in terms of the ratio of GDP to the amount of funding allocated to educational programmes.

Literacy rates are high enough for the African continent – 85% of the population over the age of 15 can read and write.

Cheetah, Namibia

Cheetah, Namibia. Photo by Robert Marchant.

Economy

South Africa is Namibia’s main trading and economic partner. The Namibian dollar is tightly pegged to the South African rand. In the early nineties, South Africa wrote off $190 million in debt to its former colony.

Namibian Dollars, Namibia

Namibian Dollars, Namibia. Photo by John McCabe.

Unlike most African countries, where agriculture is the main economic sector, in Namibia industry plays a leading role, accounting for more than a third of GDP. The mining industry, particularly diamond mining, brings the largest export income to the country. Also gold, uranium, zinc, tin, cadmium and tungsten are mined in Namibia.

The country has developed metallurgy, the food industry; there are factories that assemble cars and a diamond-cutting factory.

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The most part of the territory of Namibia is not suitable for agriculture; cultivated farmlands occupy 1 % of the country’s area. They grow wheat, corn and millet on the cultivated areas. Given the situation in agriculture, Namibia actively imports food.

One of the main sources of foreign exchange earnings is international tourism, which provides 35% of export earnings. More than 1.5 million foreign travelers visit Namibia every year.

Infrastructure

Much of Namibia’s railway network was built during colonial times. Currently, the railroad connecting all the major cities in the country is used mainly for freight transportation. The population within the country is moved by buses.

Namibia has a well-developed network of highways, which run to all corners of the country. The total length of highways is 65 thousand kilometers. The condition of the road surface on the main roads is good. Traffic in the country is to the left.

All major cities in the country have their own airports. The national airline Air Namibia operates domestic and international flights. The country also has a large number of smaller airlines. There are no direct flights to the CIS countries. The easiest way to get to Namibia from the former Soviet Union is to make a connection in Doha, Frankfurt am Main or Addis Ababa.

The main port of Namibia is Wolfish Bay, where a large fishing fleet is based.

Wallfish Bay, Namibia

Wallfish Bay, Namibia. The author of the photo is Jule Lumma.

Climate

The climatic conditions in Namibia are typical of the semi-desert, where it is hot during the day and cold at night. The summer season lasts from October to April. During this time of year the thermometer rises to +40 ° C during the day and drops to +20 ° C at night. During the winter season, which begins in May and ends in September, the temperature during the day ranges from +25 ° C to +5 ° C.

Namibia Climate

Namibia. Photo by sea palms.

Tourism

Namibia is one of the most attractive countries in Africa in terms of tourism. Namibia has a visa-free regime with the CIS countries.

The country is considered relatively safe for travelers. However, money, jewelry and expensive items are better left in a hotel safe and not carried around.

Colmanskop Ghost Town, Namibia

Colmanskop Ghost Town, Namibia. Photo by Meme Kuru.

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Most of Namibia does not fall into the malaria risk zone. Only the area between Etosha National Park and the Namibian-Angolan border is considered dangerous. Given the possibility of infection, before traveling to Namibia travelers are recommended to take preventive anti-malarial drugs, as well as the compulsory purchase of travel insurance.

Tap water in Namibia poses no danger to human health, but it is better to refuse to drink it in favor of bottled water.

Rent a car is available in major cities. To rent a car a driving license of international standard is enough.

There are hotels which provide varying levels of comfort. The main type of accommodation in national parks are lodges.

Most tourists who come to Namibia on vacation tend to visit:

  • Kolmanskop Ghost Town in the Namib Desert. The typical German town was built by German natives early last century near a rich diamond deposit. In the mid-fifties, the deposits of precious stones were exhausted, causing the inhabitants to leave the town.
  • Caprivi is the wettest region of Namibia. Elephants migrate through Caprivi and tourists have the opportunity to observe the giant animals in the wild.
  • Spitzkop are granite peaks in the Namib Desert, which are up to 700 meters high. There are preserved rock paintings of the tribes that inhabited the Namibian territory in ancient times.
  • Cape of the Cross, which got its name from the cross, established in the XV century by Portuguese navigators. The Cape, home to one of the world’s largest colonies of fur seals, is a protected area.
  • Etosha National Park is a world famous nature reserve in the northwestern part of the country. One of the main attractions of Namibia, where you can admire the wildlife. It is home to endangered black rhinos and many rare animals.

Rhino, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Rhinoceros, Etosha National Park, Namibia. Photo by D. Mario Franco.

The optimal time to travel in Namibia is the summer season.

The Namibian coast has its own beach resort Swakopmund. The city is an example of typical German architecture. Beyond the city limits the desert begins immediately.

Graceful Trio, Swakopmund, Namibia

The graceful trio, Swakopmund, Namibia. Photo by Andrew Sulitsky.

Food and Drink

In Namibian restaurants you can order both traditional oysters and lobsters and dishes exotic to Europeans: crocodile meat, stewed zebra, pilaf of antelope or lion kebab and also insects which Namibians stew and fry.

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The German past has left its mark on the alcoholic habits of Namibians. Every year they have their own Oktoberfest and Namibian beer is exported.

Lunch, Namibian Cuisine, Namibia

Lunch, Namibian cuisine, Namibia. Photo by Petro Marais.

A tribe of toothless women

Toothless Women, Himba Tribe, Namibia

Toothless women, Himba tribe, Namibia. Photo by Thomas Bleich.

The pastoral nomadic Himba tribe is the last tribe in Namibia that observes all ancestral traditions. Today, the number of Himba is estimated from 20 to 50 thousand people who live in small nomadic settlements in the north of the country.

Himba women have no front teeth. During the initiation ritual, after which girls are officially considered adults, they have their four front teeth knocked out and then their gums are burned with a red-hot iron. In addition, the Himba tribeswomen avoid water procedures. Instead of washing, women daily smear their body and hair with a homemade cream of ochre and animal fat, and also fume themselves with smoke.

3 generations of Himba tribe, Namibia

Three generations of the Himba tribe, Namibia. The author of the photo is Francesca Bullet.

The boys of the tribe become men after they are able to kill their first animal on the hunt. In order to get married, a Himba man is obliged to pay a ransom – to give the bride’s parents 5 cows. Because of this tradition, many men get married after the age of 30, and women have children out of wedlock.

The tribe members wear almost no modern clothes, and women walk around with bare breasts. They live in small huts made of clay and straw, and they cook food on a fire near the house. The Himba use only plastic bottles and cellophane bags, which are common to most modern people.

Himba Children, Kunene Valley, Namibia

Himba children, Kunene Valley, Namibia. The author of the photo is Truwail Blue.

Residents of the settlements actually do not seek traditional medical care – the function of the doctor in the Himba is performed by herbalists, who treat for all diseases, including snake bites. Women give birth to each other.

At the same time, the tribe has its representatives in the Namibian Parliament, and the country’s authorities are trying to provide mobile schools for Himba children.

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Skeleton Coast – an anomalous area that frightens sailors

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Skeleton Coast, Namibia. Photo by rajarajaraja.

There is an anomaly zone in Namibia. Skeleton Coast is considered one of the darkest places on our planet and is shrouded in many mysteries and legends. Its ominous name the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, where the sands of the Namib desert touch the water, got not just for fun. Many years ago the remains of decapitated people, including a child, were found there. A tablet in an unknown language was found next to the dead. It was not possible to determine who the victims were or why they had been beheaded.

Skeleton Coast, Namibia DX

The Skeleton Coast, Namibia. Photo by dconvertini.

There is a belief among sailors that the Coast of Skeletons is a cursed place, which should be avoided. For centuries, many ships were wrecked here, and sailors who made it to land died a painful death due to lack of water and food. History also knows many instances when ships anchored off the coast were cut off from water by the shifting sands.

According to scientists, the cause of tragedies on the Coast of Skeletons is a combination of unfavorable weather and natural conditions – changing currents, powerful surf and heavy fog are constantly present here.

Ship, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Ship, Skeleton Coast, Namibia. Photo by David Lowry.

Despite the danger, the Coast of Skeletons attracts treasure hunters like a magnet, as deposits of diamonds have been discovered near the coast. However, because the sand dunes constantly change their location, it is impossible to navigate the area with maps. That is why most diamond hunters find not gems here, but death.

The Skeleton Coast now has the status of a Namibian National Park with its territory divided into two parts. The northern part, where the cemetery of wrecked ships is located, is closed to independent tourists. To get here is possible only as part of an organized tour group, accompanied by a professional guide. Staying in the territory is allowed only in the daytime, overnight stays in the northern part of the park are forbidden. The southern part of the park can be visited by anyone. Services tourists a small hotel where you can stay overnight.

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