Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has chosen Namibia as their honeymoon destination, a source has “confirmed” to Travel + Leisure – an excellent choice we say.
Here are 19 facts about the staggeringly beautiful African destination…
1. There’s a lot of space
The name ‘Namib’ translates as “vast place”, which is apt given that 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 kilometre.
2. Nearly half of the country is protected
Namibia takes conservation seriously. In fact, more than 40 percent of the country is under conservation management. It was also the first African country to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution. Hence its bountiful wildlife.
3. It’s the only African country with a female leader
Namibia elected its first female leader in 2015. Saara Kuugongelwa is the country’s fourth prime minister and the only female leader on the continent. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa, was the President of Liberia until January 2018, when she was replaced by former footballer George Weah.
4. More cheetahs live there than anywhere else
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the fastest land animal on the planet, Namibia is the place to go – for it 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 deserts to shimmering salt pans, have been used as the backdrop for numerous big budget blockbusters including 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Flight of the Phoenix (2006).
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 Germany was in control, and 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 formerly apologised for the genocide in 2004.
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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 cling to the 19th century apparel of their suppressors in a bid to protest and raise awareness about their bloody history.
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 latter 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 dune in the world. Rising dramatically from the Namib Desert, the impressive mound – known, rather boringly, as Dune 7 – tops out at around 383m. As a point of reference consider this: The Shard in London is 310m tall.
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11. And the largest underwater lake
Dubbed Dragon’s Breath Cave – on account of the humid air that rises from its entrance – this gargantuan grotto is home to the largest non-subglacial lake in the world. Discovered in 1986, the cave can, alas, only 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 rush took prospectors elsewhere. The Namib Desert slowly started to reclaim the middle-of-nowhere outpost, 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 bushmen hunter-gatherers who once roamed light-footed over these bone-dry gravel plains and shifting sands called it “the land God made in anger”.
The coast here is littered with rusting shipwrecks, which were surrendered to the desert by the broiling swell of the sea. But pockets of it are being tamed – a luxury hotel shaped like a shipwreck is coming to the area soon.
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. It looks incredible from space
The Namib is littered with impact craters, such as Roter Kamm – shown here – created by a meteorite the size of an SUV that struck between four and five million years ago. They look pretty awesome from space.
So too do the desert’s vast dunes.
16. There’s an epic train journey
The Desert Express covers 220 miles from Windhoek through Namibia’s central highlands, across savannah, desert and gravel plains to Swakopmund on the Atlantic coast. A longer safari option includes Walvis Bay and game drives in the Etosha National Park. Book through Expert Africa.
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17. Pedestrians can be breathalysed
Pedestrians in Namibia were once warned not to “drink and walk” after it was revealed police will breathalyse anyone involved in a collision with a vehicle. The Windhoek City Police announced it would start treating pedestrians in the same way as they would drivers in a bid to crack down on alcohol-related accidents.
18. It’s one of the thirstiest nations in Africa
Namibia is one of the thirstiest nations in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation. By its reckoning only Gabon and South Africa record higher rates of alcohol consumption – although it must be said Namibians tuck away much less booze per capita than most European nations.
19. Donald Trump can’t pronounce it
Last September, the US president incorrectly referred to the country as ‘Nambia’ not once, but twice, at a meeting in New York which consisted of leaders from Ghana, Namibia and Uganda. He was promptly torn apart on social media as a result of the blunder. Oh, Donald.
This article was written by Telegraph Travel from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network and sponsored by The Telegraph.