From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lüderitz is a small harbour town in south-west Namibia, lying on one of the
least hospitable coasts in Africa. It is a port developed around Robert
Harbour and Shark Island.
It was founded in 1883 when Heinrich Vogelsang purchased Angra Pequena and
some of the surrounding land on behalf of Adolf Lüderitz, a Hanseat from
Bremen in Germany, from the local Nama chief. Lüderitz began its life as a
trading post, with other activities in fishing and guano-harvesting. In 1909
after the discovery of diamonds nearby, Lüderitz enjoyed a sudden surge of
prosperity. Today, however, diamonds are mostly found elsewhere and offshore
and Lüderitz has lost a lot of this interest.
The harbour has a very shallow rock bottom, making it unusable for modern
ships; this led to Walvis Bay becoming the centre of the Namibian shipping
industry. Recently, however, the addition of a new quay has allowed larger
fishing vessels the dock at Lüderitz. To town has also re-styled itself in
an attempt to lure tourists to the area, which includes a new waterfront
area for shops and offices.
The town is known for its colonial architecture, including some Art Nouveau
work, and for wildlife including seals, penguins, flamingos and ostriches.
It is also home to a museum and to the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, and
formerly lay at the end of a railway line to Keetmanshoop.
Lüderitz was the starting point for explorer and sailor Amyr Klink's
successful solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, rowing for 101 days all the
way to the Brazilian coast with no other form of propulsion, in 1984.
In April 2009, an oil spill from an off-coast oil tanker spilled, risking
hundreds of African Penguins and other flora and fauna.
Just outside of Lüderitz lies the ghost town of Kolmanskop. This previously
bustling diamond town is now abandoned, and fights a constant struggle
against being buried under the shifting sand dunes of the Namib desert.
Another ghost town called Elizabeth Bay lies 30 km to the south.
The coastline in the area is recognised by Bird Life and other global
conservation groups as one of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for important
coastal seabird breeding.
Mercury Island, Ichaboe Island, Halifax Island and the Possession Islands
support the entire Namibian breeding population of Cape Gannets Morus
Capensis, 96% of the Namibian population of the endangered African Penguin
Spheniscus Demersus, and nearly one quarter of the global breeding
population of Crowned Cormorants Phalacrocorax coronatus.
Approximately 80% of the global population of the endangered Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus breeds on Mercury Island and in the Ichaboe Islands.