The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means “vast place”. According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2000 km along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for roughly 55–80 million years, the Namib may be the oldest desert in the world and contains some of the world’s driest regions. The desert geology consists of sand seas near the coast, while gravel plains and scattered mountain outcrops occur further inland. The sand dunes, some of which are 300 metres high and span 32 km long, are the second largest in the world. Fogs that originate offshore from the collision of the cold Benguela Current and warm air from the Hadley Cell create a fog belt that frequently envelops parts of the desert and is a vital source of moisture for desert life.
The Namib is almost completely uninhabited by humans except for several small settlements and indigenous pastoral groups, including the Ovahimba, Obatjimba Herero and the Topnaar Nama. Owing to its antiquity, the Namib may be home to more endemic species than any other desert in the world. A number of unusual species of plants and animals are found in this desert, highly adapted to the specific climate of the area.