Namaqualand is a dry, arid region in Namibia and South Africa. It extends over 970 km (600 mi) of the west coast from the Atlantic Ocean to the small town of Pofadder in the east, and covers a total area of 440,000 km2 (170,000 mi2). The region is split into two areas by the Orange River – Great Namaqualand to the north and Little Namaqualand to the south.
Most of the year, the area is desert-like, dusty and barren, but a remarkable phenomenon which makes this area a tourist-magnet occurs after the winter rainfall. Between July and September, the ground is transformed by a spectacular carpet of flowers, mainly orange and white daisies interspersed with hundreds of other flowering species. The Namaqua National Park has been established to protect this unique display.
The area also hosts rich supplies of alluvial diamonds, deposited by the Orange River, and once-thriving copper, lead, zinc and silver mining industries, but these are now declining. As a result, its inhabitants are increasingly turning to farming and fishing, putting additional strain on an area already suffering from erosion and other effects of climate change.
Several projects are in place to help Namaqualand farmers harness and make the most of the remaining resources, including improving water management, conserving natural areas and managing livestock numbers and grazing. However, it is predicted that within the next 50 years, rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall will turn Namaqualand from a semi-desert to a desert, and will place Nature’s annual flower festival at risk.