How many of these fun facts do you know about Namibia?
One of my favorite ways to extend my travels is to immerse myself in a place before I visit it. I do this by doing research, or reading books by local authors or books that take place where I’m going. By the time I step off the plane, it no longer feels totally foreign.
That’s exactly what I did before I headed to Namibia!
Namibia has always fascinated me, even though I didn’t know much. After doing some research I’m now even more excited!
Here are 11 Awesome Facts About Namibia:
1) Namibia is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs (~2500-3000).
I was lucky enough to see a few of them at the Cheetah Conservation Fund. What I enjoyed most was hearing them. Their chirp-like sound as they impatiently waited for lunch was not what I expected from a cat!
I especially loved hearing them. Their chirp-like sound as they impatiently waited for lunch was not what I expected from a cat!
2)The country gets its name from the Namib Desert – one of the world’s oldest deserts.
No one knows exactly how old it is but scientists have identified that sand has existed in the desert for over a million years! See the Namib Desert for yourself on this tour.
3)Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world.
It has a population of ~2 million in a country that is twice the size of California. Only Mongolia is less populous. The low population makes it an excellent place to see wildlife.
4)Would you visit a place in Namibia called the Skeleton Coast?
Named so in previous times for all the whale and seal skeletons lining the coast, there would have been a few humans ones there as well. It’s famous for shipwrecks due to blinding fog.
Over 1000 ships met their end here. The Bushmen refer to it as The Land God Made in Anger. Even the Portuguese refer to it as The Gates of Hell. But it’s not all bad news though. It’s also home to one of the world’s largest seal populations with almost 100,000 seals!
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5) Namibia was a German colony, then captured by South Africa in World War I.
It became independent in 1990.
6) Despite its low population, Namibia is still home to 13 different ethnic groups.
That includes the Himba. They’re a nomadic and traditional people whose ways have changed little over the years due to their seclusion from outside influences.
The Himba only came into contact with Western influences a mere 15 years ago. I was really looking forward to my visit to a Himba village. But had mixed feelings after my visit.
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7) Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate environmental protection into its Constitution.
The result of this has been many community-based tourism initiatives that provide social and monetary benefits to the communities and authentic experience for visitors. It’s sustainable tourism at its best!
8) Namibia is one of only two countries in the world that has desert elephants!
They’re not a separate species, but the IUCN has identified them as a high priority.
They’ve adapted to their semi-desert environment by developing a smaller body mass, longer legs, and larger feet. That enables them to travel for miles across sand dunes to reach the water.
Heck, they’re even known to slide down the dunes to reach the water. I searched for a video, but couldn’t find one. Wouldn’t that be something to see!
You can find out more about desert elephants here. Note: I didn’t see a desert elephant but I saw large herds of African elephants in Etosha National Park! You’ll definitely want to spend a few days in Etosha and this tour makes it easy to do so. Or at the very least check out this 3-hour game drive.
9) Did you know that there are two different styles of sandboarding? Namibia has both.
The easiest, but perhaps scariest is lying down and heading down the dune headfirst. You can reach a speed of up to 80km/hr!
The second is standing up, which is slower, but more difficult to master. I definitely preferred the head first version. You’ll understand why after reading this post – hint – I was really bad!
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10) Sossusvlei Sand Dunes are some of the highest in the world. They’re one of Namibia’s most impressive sights.
Big Daddy is the largest dune in Sossusvlei measuring ~325m and also visiting Dune 45, known as the most photographed dune in the world.
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11) Namibia is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming black rhinos.
I loved tracking this critically endangered animal and (gulp) did so on foot!
Only afterward did I notice, when we were back in the jeep and ran into a pride of lions, that our guides were unarmed! It was one of the most incredible African wildlife experiences that I’ve ever had.