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SWAKOPMUND

Swakopmund (German for 'Mouth of the Swakop') is a coastal town on Namibia's Atlantic seaboard, 280 km (175 miles) west of Windhoek, Namibia's capital. It is the capital of the Erongo administrative district. As a seaside resort, the weather is cooler here in December to January (Namibia's summer months).

Swakopmund was founded in 1892, two years later than Windhoek, by Captain Curt von François. It was intended to be the main harbour of German South-West Africa. Increased traffic between Germany and its colony necessitated establishing a port of its own, as Walvis Bay, located 33 kilometres south, was in British possession. The choice fell to a site north of the Swakop River, because water was readily available, and because other sites were unsuitable. The site did not offer any natural protection to ships lying off the coast, such places being very rare on Namibia's coast.

Surrounded by the Namib Desert on three sides and the cold Atlantic waters to the west, Swakopmund enjoys a temperate climate. The average temperature ranges between 15°C to 25°C. Rainfall is less than 15 mm per year, making gutters and drainpipes on buildings a rarity. The cold Benguela current supplies moisture for the area in the form of fog that can reach as deep as 140 km (87 miles) inland. The fauna and flora of the area have adapted to this phenomenon and now rely upon the fog as a source of moisture.

Attractions in Swakopmund include a Swakopmund Museum, the National Marine Aquarium, a crystal gallery and spectacular sand dunes near Langstrand south of the Swakop River. Outside of the city, the Rossmund Desert Golf Course is one of only 5 all-grass desert golf courses in the world. The city is known for extreme sports such sky-diving, balloon rides, quad biking and sand-boarding on the sand dunes of the Namib.