Top tip: Skip the Skeleton Coast swim
Formerly known as South West Africa, Namibia is, unsurprisingly, in southwest Africa. It is a large and largely barren country sharing borders with Angola to the north, Botswana to the east, South Africa to the south and, in the Caprivi Strip, a narrow panhandle of Namibian territory jutting from the north-east corner of the country, with Zambia and Zimbabwe.
To the west is 795 miles of possibly the most desolate and lonely coastline in the world. The port of Walvis Bay, situated roughly halfway down Namibia’s coast, is jointly administrated with South Africa. Along its entire length, the vast shifting sand dunes of the Namib Desert spread inland for 50-80 miles. In the interior, the escarpment of a north-south plateau slopes away to the east and north into the vast interior sand basin of the Kalahari. In the far north-west the 25,500 sq. miles of the Kaokoveld Mountains run along the coast, while further inland lies the Etosha Pan (the giant of Namibia’s saline lakes), a flat, lifeless, dry river bed, surrounded by grasslands and bush which support a large and varied wildlife. The Etosha Pan National Park & Game Reserve is one of the finest in Africa, in that it remains, to a large extent, free of man’s influence.
The coast of the Namib Desert remains cool, damp and free of rain because of the cold Benguela current. It also causes a dense coastal fog. Inland, all the rain falls in summer (November to April). In the summer temperatures are high with cool nights because of the altitude. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.
Facts and Figures
|Area||824,292 sq km (318,261 sq miles).|
|Population||2,108,665 (2007 estimate)|
|Capital||Windhoek- population 233,529 (2001)|
|Language||English is the official language. Afrikaans is spoken by most people. German, Herero, Kavango, Nama and Ovambo (51 per cent) are also spoken.|
|Religion||Christian majority (90 per cent).|
|Time||GMT + 2 (GMT + 1 from April to August).|
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