Global Politics

Namibia's Coastal Desert Named Newest World Heritage Site

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Credit: Paul van Schalkwyk

Namib Sand Sea

The place we're looking for in Geo Quiz is old but it has a new claim to fame.

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This coastal region in southern Africa has just been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

That means it's considered a natural wonder of the world and one worth protecting.

This region is part of a vast desert that looks out on the Atlantic Ocean.

This desert's been there for roughly 75 million years, so its among the oldest deserts in the world.

The desert region we want you to name is also one of the most sought after tourism destinations in Namibia. That may be because some areas of the remote uninhabited landscape look like the surface of the moon, and because of the dazzling views of the night sky there.

So, can you name this brand-new World Heritage Site in southern Africa?

Theo Wassanaar is an ecologist at Gobabeb, an environmental research organization located at the edge of the Namib Sand Sea, the answer to our Geo Quiz.

UNESCO World Heritage describes the Namib Sand Sea this way:

"Namib Sand Sea is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500 hectares, the site is composed of two dune systems, an ancient semi-consolidated one overlain by a younger active one. The desert dunes are formed by the transportation of materials thousands of kilometers from the hinterland, that are carried by river, ocean current and wind. It features gravel plains, coastal flats, rocky hills, inselbergs within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches."

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