Coastline of Namibia and South Africa – November 13th, 2008
In our main image we have the coastline of Namibia and South Africa. The Orange River, below the Namibian Desert, marks the border with South Africa.
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa on the Atlantic coast. It shares borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa (from which it became independent in 1990) to the south.
Namibia’s capital city is Windhoek. With an estimated population 1,820,916, it is the second most sparsely populated country in the world after Mongolia.
Our first image detail focuses on the Namib Desert, for which Namibia was given its name.
The Namib Desert is a desert in Namibia and southwest Angola which forms part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The desert is Africa’s second largest.
The desert occupies an area of around 80 900 km² (31 200 square miles), stretching about 1000 miles (1,600 km) along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia.
The area is considered to be one of the oldest deserts in the world. It has less than 10 mm (0.4 inches) of rain annually and is almost completely barren.
The interaction between the water-laden air coming from the sea via southerly winds, some of the strongest of any coastal desert, and the dry air of the desert causes immense fogs and strong currents, causing sailors to lose their way or to become shipwrecked. Such a fog cloud is visible off the coast in our image.
The Republic of South Africa, on the other hand, is a country located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa. The South African coast stretches 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) and borders both the Atlantic and Indian oceans. As of midyear 2007, the South African population was estimated at 47.9 million.
In this close-up image we can see a phytoplankton bloom off the Atlantic Coast of South Africa, to the northwest of the Cape of Good Hope. The city of Cape Town is also visible.
This region has a dramatically different climate from that of the desertous region of Namibia we were observing previously: the Cape Peninsula has a Mediterranean climate with well-defined seasons. In winter, which lasts from May to September, large cold fronts come across from the Atlantic Ocean with heavy precipitation and strong north-westerly winds. Most of the city’s annual rainfall occurs in wintertime. Summer, which lasts from November to March, is warm and dry.