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Namibia: Fascinating facts about country that hosts world’s oldest desert

Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, is distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast.

The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population.

The capital, Windhoek, and coastal town Swakopmund contain German colonial-era buildings such as Windhoek’s Christuskirche, built in 1907.

In the north, Etosha National Park’s salt pan draws game including rhinos and giraffes.

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Hollywood movies

Namibia’s dramatic landscapes, which range from desolate deserts to shimmering salt pans, have been used as the backdrop for numerous big budget blockbusters.

They include, A Space Odyssey (1968), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Flight of the Phoenix (2006).

World’s tallest sand dunes

Dune 7 stands at over 1200 feet tall, and got its name for being the seventh dune past the Tsauchab River as you travel towards Sossusvlei.

This area is a vast depression or clay pan, towered over by huge sand dunes up to 300 metres high.

Largest underground lake

Hidden beneath the Kalahari Desert, lies the world’s largest underground lake, found 100m down the a cave known locally as the Dragon Breath Cave.

The word “Dragon Breath” strangely describes the cool fresh ‘breath’ that one encounters oozing from the cave’s mouth.

The lake is also the home to the world’s rarest fish, a species of catfish unique to the lake of which there are estimated to be only 200.

Skeleton Coast

An amazing section of where Namibia’s meets the Atlantic Ocean has been named the Skeleton Coast.

Historically, it was nearly impossible to launch boats from the shore in this northern part of Namibia, and the only way out to the ocean was through a vast marsh, accessible exclusively via a hot and arid desert.

Given its harsh conditions, the Skeleton Coast has been responsible for numerous deadly shipwrecks.

World’s oldest desert

80 million years old, the Namib desert is the oldest desert on earth, and is known for being home to some of Africa’s strangest flora and fauna.

This huge 2,000 kilometre expanse is almost entirely uninhabited other than some small indigenous settlements.

Its animal residents are specially-adapted species that have developed techniques to survive the environment here – desert elephant, ostrich, oryx and the endemic Namib Desert beetle.

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Fish River Canyon

Namibia is home to the second-largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon – Fish River Canyon.

While it’s Namibia’s second-most visited site, Fish River Canyon receives less than 1% of the visitor numbers of the Grand Canyon.

The canyon is steeped in San legend, which tells that this vast crevasse was carved by a great serpent.

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