Namibia's name is derived from the Namib Desert, a unique geological feature renowned for the pristine and haunting quality of its landscape. It is this feature that characterises the country most, and that is home to some of Namibia’s top tourist destinations, notably Sossusvlei, Sandwich Harbour and the Skeleton Coast Park. Far from being lifeless and barren, the long, narrow strip of moist coastal desert features an unusual variety of desert-adapted flora and fauna, including a large number of endemic plant, bird, reptile and insect species.
Since Namibia's tourism industry is based on the country's natural assets, tourist developments are closely linked to conservation and various forms of eco- and community tourism are practised. A relatively new development is conservancies, the pooling of resources by neighbouring landowners or inhabitants of communal areas for the purpose of conserving and using wildlife in a sustainable way. Many of these conservancies have small satellite tourism enterprises that generate income for their management. Current government policy places the emphasis on quality tourism as opposed to quantity tourism. New developments are consequently kept small, high standards are maintained and the carrying capacity of the environment is taken into consideration.
Namibia's bountiful sunshine, abundance of wildlife, scenic beauty and rich diversity of geological phenomena make the country a sought-after tourist destination to which visitors return again and again. Plus points are the friendliness and cultural diversity of its people, a well-developed infrastructure and an extensive choice of parks, resorts and accommodation establishments, the latter ranging from five-star luxury hotels and up-market guest lodges to simple and rustic accommodation in the quiet seclusion of the bush.
For sportsmen and adventurers Namibia has much to offer. Activities include soaring, hiking, hot-air ballooning, dune skiing, mountain biking, white-river rafting, hunting, abseiling, equestrian sports and excellent coastal and freshwater angling.