Namibia: Where desert meets ocean

Vast and arid, Namibia is home to extreme landscapes and otherwordly sights.  

Published - July 05, 2024 10:03 am IST

The ancient dead trees in the Namibian desert are a stunning sight.

The ancient dead trees in the Namibian desert are a stunning sight. | Photo Credit: Pixabay

On the southwestern coast of Africa — bordered by Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and the Atlantic Ocean — lies Nambia. It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, almost on par with Mongolia. The southern and coastal regions are almost uninhabited. The country gained independence from South Africa in 1990. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek and the currency is the Namibian dollar. 


  • The Central Plateau, which runs from north to south, is home to most of the country’s villages and towns. 
  • The oldest desert on Earth, the Namib Desert stretches along the coastline. 
  • The Kalahari Desert covers the eastern third of the country. 
  • In the northeast is the Bushveld, which has tropical forests and rivers.  


The population of Namibia is young; almost two-fifths of the people are under 15 years. There are about 11 ethnic groups, of which the Owambo people are the largest. Though English is the official language, very few people speak it as their native language. Major languages spoken here include Oshiwambo, Khoekhoe, Afrikaans, Hereo and Kwangali.  


The food features a blend of indigenous cooking and colonial influences, especially German. Meat has a large role to play. Some common dishes are Potjiekos (traditional stew cooked outdoors), Biltong (seasoned and air-dried meat), Omagungu (mopane worms), Kapana (grilled meat), oysters, meat skewers, and so on. German sausages such as Landjäger are also popular. Did you know that Giant African bullfrogs and oysters are a delicacy here?  


Namibia is home to the largest free-roaming black rhino population in Africa as well as the largest cheetah population in the world. What’s more, a stunning array of desert-adapted animals as well as marine life live in this region. For instance, the elephants here can survive for days without drinking water. Other common animals include the lion, springbok, zebra, wildebeest, oryx, meerkat, ostrich, Cape fur seal, and more. Interestingly, Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its Constitution. 

Did you know? 

  • The Namib desert is famous for dramatic sand dunes, some of which are among the tallest in the world. 
  • The country is renowned for its prehistoric rock art collection. 
  • The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia is the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the U.S. 
  • The Gibeon meteorite, which fell in prehistoric times, is one of the largest known meteorite showers, with fragments scattered across a large area of Namibia. 
  • The country’s treacherous Skeleton Coast is scattered with shipwrecks from hundreds of years ago.  
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