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ANGOLA

Angola is located on the western coast of Southern Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The exclave province of Cambinda borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to Angola's oil reserve, one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Angola is a coastal country, however it doesn't have many coastal islands besides two - the Kwanda Island and the Baia dos Tigres. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda and it also the most expensive city in the world since most goods are imported.

 

For many centuries before European incursions, Bantu tribes inhabited the geographical area now called Angola. The Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais founded Luanda in 1575, with a hundred families of settlers and four hundred soldiers. Subsequently the Portuguese established several settlements and trading posts along the coast. In the late 16th century the slave trade flourished here, and reportedly it was responsible for the exportation of over three million native Africans (against their will) to the Portuguese colony of Brazil. By the 19th century Angola became a colony of Portugal and a major exporter bananas and coffee. However, the desire for independence grew stronger and stronger, and in response the Portuguese provoked an armed conflict in 1961. Nationalist movement develops guerrilla war in order to gain independence. After nearly 15 years of warfare, Angola achieved independence on November 11th 1975. Jose Eduardo dos Santos became country's first leader in 1979. The new country should have flourished as it contained a massive diamond and oil reserve (worth billions), however instead, a 27-year civil war followed. Nearly 1.5 million Angolans died, and 4 million were displaced as a result. In 2002, the civil war came to an end following the killing of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Joao Lourenco became the country's first new president in 38 years in September 2017. "He was the chosen candidate of his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who did not run in the general election but who is still expected to retain a strong influence over the running of the country", according to the BBC.

Angola has a wealth of natural resources with Oil and Diamond being the most treasured. Most of the mentioned oil reserves are found in the enclave of Cambinda, and according to an American foundation, oil production from Angola has increased so significantly that Angola now is China's biggest supplier of oil. Angola is the second largest oil-producing African country and the 16th largest oil producing nation in the world with a daily production of 1.5 million barrels. It is the 12th member of OPEC and is currently exporting nearly 90% of crude oil to China and the U.S.A. The economy of Angola is largely dependent on oil, Oil production accounts for 40% of Angola’s GDP; the country has an estimated 8 billion barrels of oil reserves. Angola is rich in subsoil heritage where its diamond reserves are found. Angola is estimated to have total diamond reserves of 180 million carats located at provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul. Its recent diamond production is estimated to be 9.4 Million Carats. The biggest mine of Angola is Cato ca. This mine produces 7 million carats of diamonds annually. Other resources include copper and a rich wildlife (dramatically impoverished during the civil war), forest and fossil fuels. Agriculture used to be a dominant industry in Angola prior to the civil war. As a result of the civil war, “less than 3 percent of Angola's abundant fertile land is cultivated and the economic potential of the forestry sector remains largely unexploited”  according the World Bank. Although the country is gaining back momentum to become the fastest-growing economy in the continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world, with an average GDP growth of 20% between 2005 and 2007. In the period 2001–10, Angola had the world's highest annual average GDP growth, at 11.1%.

Angola has diverse ethnic groups, mostly of the Bantu group; composed of Ovimbundu (language Umbundu) 37%, Ambundu (language Kimbundu) 23%, Bakongo 13%, and 32% other ethnic groups (including the Chokwe, the Ovambo, the Ganguela and the Xindonga) as well as about 2% mestiços (mixed European and African), 1.6% Chinese and 1% European. The Ambundu and Ovimbundu ethnic groups combined form a majority of the population, at 62%. Portuguese is the official language of the country. The most widely spoken indigenous languages are Umbundu, Kimbundu and Kikongo, in that order.

Cuisine in Angola is  combination of traditional and Portuguese influences.  The Angolans’ use of certain spices and methods of cooking were greatly influenced by Portugal. Angolan cuisine is remarkably tasty and aromatic. The usual ingredients include fish, chicken, cassava, beans, okra, and other types of vegetables. To say the least, Angolan cuisine is nourishing as well as appetizing. Popular dishes include: Funje, which is also spelled as funge, is a staple food in Angola. Made from cassava flour, it’s usually served with chicken, fish, beans, or greens; Caruru is an okra-and-shrimp dish that can trace its origin to Brazil; Fried insects, Like in some African countries, insects are a delicacy in Angola. Catatos and gafanhotos de palmeria are especially common in the country. Catatos is fried caterpillar usually eaten with rice. The caterpillar is cooked in garlic and tastes like prawn. Gafanhotos de palmeria is toasted grasshopper and is eaten with funje. Mafute de Cacusso grilled tilapia with beans cooked on palm oil. Piri piri chicken is originally from Angola and Mozambique, and was adapted as a Portugal dish. The dish is basically made by marinating chicken in chili pepper and grilling it afterward. Chili pepper is called piri piri in Angola.

Music in Angola has a strong oral storytelling tradition, and the ability to speak well is admired throughout Angolan society. A written literary culture developed in the 19th century in the cities, and political poetry and literature played a significant part in the independence movement. The most famous poet in Angola is Antonio Agostinho Neto, an admired political poet and former president of Angola. Lilly Tchiumba wrote and composed these songs about Angola based on traditional stories and music that she learned growing up in Luanda, Angola’s capital city. She sings in Kimbundu, one of Angola’s national languages, and she is accompanied by violas, ungo, kabaca-puita, and an n’goma drum. The music also reflects Portuguese influence, a result of the 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Angola. The songs range from a parent lamenting over a sick child (“N’Zambi”) to praising the role of women in Angolan society (“Muáto Muá N’Gola”). The liner notes include brief summaries of the stories in each song.

Landmarks and major tourist sites include:

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BOTSWANA

 

Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast  near Kazungula. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. Botswana extends from the Chobe River (which drains through the Zambezi to the Indian Ocean) in the north to the Molopo River (part of the Orange River system, which flows into the Atlantic) in the south. To the east it is bordered by the Limpopo River and its tributaries, the Ngotwane (Notwani), Marico (Madikwe), and Shashe. On the north of the country lies one of the most beautiful natural phenomenons the Okavango Delta, ranked to be among the world largest inland deltas. The Okavango Delta is a unique pulsing wetland. More correctly an alluvial fan, the delta covers between 6 and 15 000 square kilometers of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River which flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and into the harsh Kalahari Desert. Based on how the delta operates, the Okavango Delta is in flood between July and September  – this natural phenomenon draws a large range of wildlife to the waters, which in turn attracts predators towards the high concentration of plains game from the dry hinterland. Okavango Delta is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014, making it a major tourist hot spot.

 

Botswana is one of the most stable countries on the continent and also has the longest continuous multi-party democracy. It is relatively free of corruption and has a good human rights record, according to the BBC. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent on September 30th 1966. Prior to gaining independence, Botswana was considered one of the poorest and least-developed states in the world. Since its independence the Republic of Botswana has gained international stature as a peaceful and increasingly prosperous democratic state. Upon gaining independence, Seretse Khama,  served as the country's first president until 1980; Seretse Khama Ian Khama - the son of Sir Seretse Khama, the first post-independence leader - took over as president in April 2008.

He was the chosen successor of Festus Mogae, who stepped down at the end of his second term, after a decade at the helm, according to the BBC. Critics describe president Ian Khama as authoritarian while supporters say he is decisive and efficient. The capital of Botswana, Gaborone (until 1969 spelled Gaberones—i.e., Gaborone’s town), is  named after the tribal chief who had his capital at the site during the colonial period).

 

Known to be the largest producer of diamonds in the world, Botswana is truly a great example for the continent as it thrives in both its economic and political sectors. The diamond trade has transformed Botswana into a middle-income nation. There are seven diamond mines in the country. The two important ones are Orapa and Jwaneng, two of the most prolific diamond mines in the world. Botswana’s resources produce the full range of diamonds, in all sizes, colors and clarities. Most of Botswana’s diamond production is gem quality, nicely-shaped dodecahedral stones in medium and high colors, and often with a greenish skin. Other natural resources includes Nickel and copper have been mined at Selebi-Phikwe near the Motloutse River since 1974, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Coal is mined for power generation. Also, salt and soda ash are notable resources.

 

Botswana is sparsely populated with the dominant ethnic identity being Tswana, comprising of two-thirds of the population. The country is named after this dominant ethnic group, the Tswana (“Bechuana” in older variant orthography). "Tswana ethnic dominance (“Tswanadom”) in Botswana can be dated to the eight Tswana states, which ruled most of the area in the 19th century. Under British colonial rule, the populations of these states were given the official status of “tribes,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The other main ethnic identity besides Tswana, are the Khalagari, Basarwa and Kalanga. The official language is English, however, several other languages are also spoken in the country, including Kalanga, Sekgalagadi, Herero, Mbukushu, and Yei.

As the third least densely populated country in on the continent, Botswana is a haven for nature  and safari enthusiasts and protects some of the largest areas of wilderness. Safari-based tourism is  tightly controlled and often upmarket and serves as an important source of income for the country. major tourist sites include:

  • The Okavango Delta

  • Okavango River (Maun)

  • Moremi Wildlife Reserve (Moremi Game Reserve)

  • Chobe National Park (Kasane)

  • Makgadikgadi Salt Pan (Makgadikgadi Pans National Park)

  • Khama Rhino Sanctuary (Serowe)

  • Mokolodi Nature Reserve (Gaborone)

  • Three Chiefs' Statues (Gaborone)

  • Kubu Island (Makgadikgadi Pans National Park) Nata Bird Sanctuary (Nata)

  • Gaborone Sun (Gaborone)

  • Baines Baobabs (Nxai Pan National Park)

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Central Kalahari Game Reserve).

Cuisine in Botswana shares plenty of culinary aspects found in other South African cuisines, yet, Botswana cuisine is still quite unique. Botswana cuisine is often referred to as ‘Setswana food,’ named after the predominant language spoken in Botswana.. The national dish of Botswana is called Seswaa. This consists of a meat stew served over thick polenta or pap. Bogobe (also called “Slap-Pap” – stiff cornmeal porridge). Marinated Grilled Beefsteak, Botswana Style. Vetkoek with Mince (2 recipes in 1, vetkoek is a pastry, in this recipe it is filled with curried minced meat).

Botswana culture is best expressed in music and dance. There is a cordial existence of traditional folklore and modern music in the local music industry. Indigenous Botswana music is predominantly vocal accompanied by a clapping of hands to produce a muffled rhythmic sound at heart-beat pace; but it has been modernized by introducing modern beat and increased its tempo. Traditional folklore uses string instruments like segaba, segankure and setinkane. Renowned local artists like George Swabi and Kwata-E-Shele use the string instruments to produce unbelievably sweet sounding melodies.

UNESCO Heritage site in Botswana includes:

1. Okavango Delta

Botswana is a very large, swampy inland delta formed where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. All the water reaching the Delta is ultimately evaporated and transpired, and does not flow into any sea or ocean.It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014, making it a major tourist hot spot.

 

2. Tsodilo

The site features more than 4,500 rock art paintings in the Kalahari Desert. Archaeological records provide evidence of human and environmental activities ranging over 100,000 years.

Botswana offers a vast range of safari-lodge and game-activity options. Take a ride in a mokoro (traditional canoe) through the wetlands of the Okavango Delta. Visit the iconic Tsodilo Hills and see the rock art of the ancient San people. Explore the vast Makgadikgadi Pans in a 4x4. Marvel at the enormous elephant herds that congregate along the Chobe River. Catch a glimpse of a black-maned desert lion. Go walking in the wild with an experienced game tracker and learn about spoor, dung and the medicinal uses of plants. Enjoy the thrill of a horse-back safari through the Okavango Delta. Enjoy a safari with a difference on a luxurious houseboat on the Chobe River.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Lesotho include:

Maloti-Drakensberg Park

The park features incisive dramatic cutbacks, golden sandstone ramparts, and the largest concentration of cave art in Sub-Saharan Africa.he park is situated in the Drakensberg Mountains which form the highest areas in the sub-region, and supports unique montane and sub-alpine ecosystems. These ecosystems hold a globally significant plant and animal biodiversity, with unique habitats and high levels of endemism. The park is also home to the greatest gallery of rock art in the world with hundreds of sites and many thousands of images painted by the Bushmen (San) people.

LESOTHO

 

Lesotho is an enclaved country in southern Africa, completely surrounded by South Africa. This mountain kingdom was the domain of Khoisan-speaking hunter-gatherers. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. In the 19th century the Sotho, led by Moshoeshoe I, took control of the region. It remained independent until it became a British protectorate, one of three British High Commission Territories (the others being Bechuanaland [now Botswana] and Swaziland). Previously known as Basutoland, Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom on October 4th 1966.

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy, with the king as the head of state. The prime minister serves as the head of government and head of the armed forces. The bicameral parliament consists of an elected National Assembly and an appointed Senate.Conflict arose in February 1990 within the Military Council, headed by Maj. Gen. Lekhanya, but King Moshoeshoe II refused to approve several dismissals from the council. He was dethroned and went into exile, and his eldest son, Mohato, was sworn in as King Letsie III. Maj. Gen. Lekhanya was forced to resign in April 1991 after a successful coup led by Col. Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifted the ban on political activity and promised a new constitution. The political and economic crises continued, however, and demonstrations broke out in Maseru in May. General elections first promised in 1992 were finally held in March 1993. The BCP returned to power under the leadership of Ntsu Mokhehle as prime minister. He appointed a commission in July 1994 to examine the circumstances surrounding the dethronement of King Moshoeshoe II in 1990. King Letsie’s attempt to dismiss the BCP government in August 1994 proved unsuccessful, and Moshoeshoe was reinstated as king in January 1995. Less than a year later, Moshoeshoe died, and Letsie reassumed the throne; a formal coronation ceremony was held in October 1997.

Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy, with the king as the head of state. The prime minister serves as the head of government and head of the armed forces. The bicameral parliament consists of an elected National Assembly and an appointed Senate.The king himself does not hold executive authority and is instead a national symbol; executive power rests with the cabinet, which is led by the prime minister. Political parties were dissolved in 1986 but reauthorized in 1991. Conflict arose in February 1990 within the Military Council, headed by Maj. Gen. Lekhanya, but King Moshoeshoe II refused to approve several dismissals from the council. He was dethroned and went into exile, and his eldest son, Mohato, was sworn in as King Letsie III. Maj. Gen. Lekhanya was forced to resign in April 1991 after a successful coup led by Col. Elias Tutsoane Ramaema, who lifted the ban on political activity and promised a new constitution. General elections first promised in 1992 were finally held in March 1993. The BCP returned to power under the leadership of Ntsu Mokhehle as prime minister. He appointed a commission in July 1994 to examine the circumstances surrounding the dethronement of King Moshoeshoe II in 1990. King Letsie’s attempt to dismiss the BCP government in August 1994 proved unsuccessful, and Moshoeshoe was reinstated as king in January 1995. Less than a year later, Moshoeshoe died, and Letsie reassumed the throne, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Lesotho has few mineral resources, although produce diamonds are heavily produced in the highlands. Lesotho is blessed with colorful type II diamonds, which are nitrogen free and highly sought. The country is home to the Gem Diamonds-owned Letseng mine, the highest dollar-per-carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world. Some of the largest diamonds ever discovered were found here, with some stones estimated at 600 carats uncut. Diamonds contribute 10 percent of the country’s GDP. The country is rich with natural wealth such as mountains and mineral springs. The country's most treasured resources is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) that opened in 2004. This is a large-scale water-transfer plan between Lesotho and South Africa. The LHWP consists of dams, reservoirs, transfer tunnels, and a hydroelectric power station. The LHWP augments the transfer of the headwaters of the Orange River deep in the valleys of the Lesotho highlands to the river’s principal tributary, the Vaal River in South Africa, thus supplying South Africa with much-needed water while generating hydroelectric power for use in Lesotho.

The overwhelming majority of the country’s population are the Sotho (also known as Basotho). They were originally united by a common loyalty to the royal house of Moshoeshoe I, who founded the Sotho nation in the 19th century. There is also a Zulu minority, a small population of Asian or mixed ancestry, and a European community.

Landmarks and major tourist sites in Lesotho includes:

  • Thaba-Bosiu National Monument (Maseru)

  • Ha Kome Cave Houses (Teyateyaneng)

  • Mafika Lisiu Pass (Pitseng)

  • Morija Museum & Archives (Morija)

  • Gates of Paradise Pass (Malealea)

  • Our Lady of Victory Cathedral (Maseru) Maletsunyane Falls

  • Ketane Falls

  • Letseng Diamond Mine

  • Ha Baroana

  • Liphofung Cave

  • Qomoqomong Valley Petroglyphs

  • Thaba-Bosiu.

Cuisine in Lesotho features both traditional Lesotho, British and South African culinary practices. Dishes such as Pap-pap or Papa, Ugali and Cabbage, Curried Meat, Mealie-Meal (cornmeal Caes).

  Music in Lesotho has many styles and sub-genres of Basotho music, which differ from one territory to the next. These styles have created cohesion or brought about rivalry throughout the years. While South African music is generally enjoyed in Lesotho, there is a tremendous following for famo (contemporary Sesotho music, which features the accordion and oil can drum) such as that by Mosotho Chakela.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Lesotho include:

Maloti-Drakensberg Park

The park features incisive dramatic cutbacks, golden sandstone ramparts, and the largest concentration of cave art in Sub-Saharan Africa.he park is situated in the Drakensberg Mountains which form the highest areas in the sub-region, and supports unique montane and sub-alpine ecosystems. These ecosystems hold a globally significant plant and animal biodiversity, with unique habitats and high levels of endemism. The park is also home to the greatest gallery of rock art in the world with hundreds of sites and many thousands of images painted by the Bushmen (San) people.

MALAWI

 

Malawi, formerly known as Nyasaland is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa and is commonly known as "The Warm Heart of Africa," due to the kindness of its people. Malawi, in Chichewa – the local language – means flames or fire. It is named after the incredible sunset and sunrises over the Lake Malawi. It is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Lake Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre, the third is Mzuzu and the fourth largest is its old capital Zomba. Malawi is a country country endowed with spectacular highlands and extensive lakes and a number of fish species that can't be found anywhere else.

Malawi gained independence from the United Kingdom on July 6th 1964. Soon after independence, a dispute arose between Hastings Banda, the prime minister, and most of his cabinet ministers. This lead to the dismissal of three ministers and the resignation and protest by  three others in September 1964.  "Henry Chipembere, one of these ministers, escaped from house arrest and defied attempts at recapture, becoming the focus for anti-government opinion until his death in 1975," according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Banda became elected president in 1971 and was made president for life. However, in 1994 advocates for change won an overwhelming victory that lead to the first free elections in more than 30 years. Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi was limited to two terms as president, despite his efforts to amend the constitution to allow further terms. In 2004 his handpicked successor, Bingu wa Mutharika was declared the winner of an election tainted by irregularity and criticized as unfair. Althouh, Mutharika's rule of govening the country rew increasingly autocratic and the country faced new economic challenges nder his second term. As a result, some of his officials expressed disagreement with him and Mutharika dismissed them from their high-ranking positions, including Vice Pres. Joyce Banda. Soon after, Mutharika suffered a heart attack and was officially declared deceased on April  7th 2012.

with strong domestic and international support Joyce Banda was sworn in as acting president. Banda moved quickly to counter the policies of Mutharika’s administration by restoring diplomatic relations with Great Britain and normalized relations with donors who greatly contributed to tackle the impact of HIV-Aids which claimed the lives of people. On the 2014 election, Joyce Banda was defeated by Arthur Peter Mutharika the brother of Bingu wa Mutharika (the irst president).

Malawi is largely an agricultural country because of its arable land making it its most significant natural resource. Malawi is a leading producer of Tobacco which accounts for most of the country's exports. Sugar, tea, and cotton are also major exports. Some small-scale mining of coal takes place in the north, and quarrying of limestone for cement production is also an important activity. Precious and semiprecious stones are mined on a small scale; these include agate, aquamarine, amethyst, garnet, corundum, rubies, and sapphires. Malawi’s water resources are plentiful with Lake Malawi being the third biggest lake in Africa; world renowned for its crystal-clear waters but also because it displays the highest number of fish species of any lake in the world.

There are ten major ethnic groups in the country. The Chewa, Nyanja, Lomwe, Yao, Tumbuka, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, Ngonde, and the Lambya/Nyiha. Chewa and Lomwe  are the largest. All the languages spoken are from the Bantu group. From 1968 to 1994, Chewa was the only national language; it is now one of the numerous languages used in print and broadcast media and is spoken by a majority of the population. The official languages are Chichewa and  English.

Landmarks and major tourist sites include:

  • Lake Malawi

  • Majete Wildlife Reserve (Chikwawa)

  • Nyika Plateau

  • Lilongwe Wildlife Centre (Lilongwe)

  • Kuti Wildlife Reserve (Salima)

  • Mount Mulanje (Mulanje)

  • Likoma Island

  • La Caverna Art Gallery (Blantyre)

  • Nature Sanctuary (Lilongwe)

  • Kungoni Centre of Culture & Art (Mtakataka) Zomba Plateau

  • Lake Chilwa (Kachulu)

  • Liwonde National Park

  • The Way of the Cross/ Njira ya Mtanda (Blantyre)

  • Parliament Building (Lilongwe)

  • Kungoni Centre of Culture & Art (Mtakataka) Kande Beach (Nkhata Bay)

  • King African Rifles Monument (Zomba)

  • Nkhoma Mountain (Lilongwe)

  • World War I Memorial (Lilongwe)

  • The Society of Malawi Library (Blantyre)

  • National Herbarium And Botanic Gardens Of Malawi (Lilongwe)

  • Mwabvi Game Reserve

  • Cultural and Museum Centre of Karonga (Karonga)

  • Kumbali Cultural Village (Lilongwe)

  • St. Peter's Cathedral (Likoma Island)

  • St Michael and All Angels Church (Blantyre)

  • Tobacco Auctions - Lilongwe/Limbe.

Cuisine in Malawi, features Tea and fish with maize as a staple crop.  Popular dishes includes: Chambo (Fish Curry), Nsima ( Cornmeal Porridge), Kachumbari, a type of tomato and onion salad, Thobwa, a fermented drink made from white maize and millet or sorghum, Kondowole, made from cassava flour and water

Ndiwo (Fruit Chutney/Relish), Mbatata (Sweet Potato Cookies).

Malawian music is largely influenced by traditions of storytelling through songs and competition through dances, using native instruments like the ulimba xylophone and bangwe zither, showing Western influence with military march-style rhythms and formations. One of the most exciting festivals in the world happens every year for the past 10 years on Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi has played host to one of Africa's most respected festivals, the Lake of Stars. The Lake of Stars festival has been hailed variously as "simply the finest festival in the world" and "the world's most spectacular music festival" by major media outlets.

UNESCO Heritae sites in Malawi includes:

1. Lake Malawi national park

Is located at the southern end of the lake, is an UNESCO World Heritage site and holds an aquarium-like array of tropical fish that are only found there.  The lake is home to more species of fish than any other lake, most of them endemic.  The wild population of fish however, is being threatened by over fishing and water pollution.  Malawi hosts a music festival, held on the lake’s shores, called the Lake of Stars Music Festival.  It is said to be one of the top 20 festivals in the world and one of Africa’s most respected music festivals, aimed to bring awareness to the vulnerability of the lake’s ecosystem.

2. Chongoni Rock-Art Area

contains the richest concentration of rock art on the continent, ranging from Stone Age paintings to contemporary work from farmers. The symbols depicted in the rock art are strongly centred around women, and retain a cultural significance for the Chewa

MOZAMBIQUE

 

Mozambique is located in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest. It is separated from Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel. The capital and largest city is Maputo (known as "Lourenço Marques" before independence).  Mozambique is rich in natural resources, is biologically and culturally diverse, and has a tropical climate. Its extensive coastline, fronting the Mozambique Channel, which separates mainland Africa from the island of Madagascar, offers some of Africa’s best natural harbors. These have allowed Mozambique an important role in the maritime economy of the Indian Ocean, while the country’s white sand beaches are an important attraction for the growing tourism industry. Fertile soils in the northern and central areas of Mozambique have yielded a varied and abundant agriculture, and the great Zambezi River has provided ample water for irrigation and the basis for a regionally important hydroelectric power industry. The country is drained by several significant rivers, with the Zambezi being the largest and most important. The Zambezi is in fact the fourth-longest river in Africa, and the largest flowing into the Indian Ocean from Africa.

Mozambique gained independence from Portugal on June 25th 1975. Soon after gaining independence, followed a sixteen year civil conflict that concluded in 1992. Although, the civil war is over, tension still remains between the ruling Frelimo party and the opposition the former Renamo rebel movement, according the BBC. During the civil conflict era Frelimo was Mozambique’s sole political party. However, multiparty elections was introduced in 1994 and the first president Frelimo and Renamo continue to be the major parties, but there are many others as well. The current president Filipe Nyusi, from the Frelimo party became president on January 2015.

Mozambique has vast natural resources and minerals, but also remained underdeveloped. Although the 1992 resource-development projects has led to an increased investment. Key metallic resources such as high-quality iron ore and the rare and important mineral tantalite (the principal ore of tantalum), of which Mozambique has what may be the world’s largest reserves. Gold, bauxite (the principal ore of aluminum), graphite, marble, bentonite, and limestone are mined and quarried, and sea salt is extracted in coastal areas. Also, Mozambique’s other mineral deposits include manganese, graphite, fluorite, platinum, nickel, uranium, asbestos, diamonds, coal and natural gas. The centerpiece of Mozambique’s energy potential is the Cahora Bassa Dam on the upper Zambezi. Originally, designed in cooperation with South Africa’s national power company to produce electricity largely for South Africa, not Mozambique. Portugal long held the majority share of ownership in the company that operates Cahora Bassa. After much negotiation, an agreement between Portugal and Mozambique that increased Mozambique’s share of ownership to 85 percent was implemented in 2006 and Portugal agreed in 2012 to relinquish its final share of ownership over the next two years. The Cahora Bassa is continent's fourth-largest artificial lake. Mozambique’s most important exports by value include aluminum, shrimp, and cotton.

The people of Mozambique are ethnically diverse, but ethnic categories are fluid and reflect the country’s colonial history. 99% of Mozambicans descended from such indigenous tribes as the Makua, Tonga, Chokwe, Manyika, and Sau. The Makua people are the largest ethnic group. Portuguese is the official and most widely spoken language of the nation.

Landmarks and major tourist sites include:

  • Fort Sao Sebastian (Mozambique Island) Independence Square (Maputo)

  • Casa do Ferro (The Iron House) (Maputo)

  • Igreja de Sao Jose de Boroma (Tete)

  • Macuti Lighthouse and Shipwreck (Beira) Mesquita da Baixa (Maputo)

  • Quelimane Cathedral (Quelimane)

  • Vila Algarve (Maputo)

  • Beira Cathedral (Beira)

  • Iglesia de San Antonio de la Polana (Maputo) Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Maputo)

  • Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Fatima (Nampula)

With a nearly 500-year presence in the country, the Portuguese have greatly impacted Mozambique's cuisine and with plentiful fish and shrimps Mozambique's cuisine is rich. Popular dishes includes: Prawns (grilled or fried shrimp served with Peri Peri sauce, Matapa ( Stewed cassava leaves), Peri Peri Chicken, Prego roll, Chamussas (Savory pastries inspired by the Indian Samosa), Dobrada, Galinha Asada.

When Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambican culture was reenergized, and music and dance that had nearly vanished under colonial rule suddenly burst onto the public stage. Dance tunes proclaimed "Down with decadent culture/Long live the Mozambican culture!" Work songs to accompany pounding maize and peanuts and songs promoting the rebuilding of "communal villages" were also extremely popular,  according to Smithsonian Folk Ways. The most popular style of modern dance music is marrabenta. Mozambican music also influenced another Lusophone music in Brazil, like maxixe (its name derived from Maxixe in Mozambique), and Cuban music like Mozambique.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Mozambique includes:

1. Island of Mozambique

lies off northern Mozambique, between the Mozambique Channel and Mossuril Bay, and is part of Nampula Province. Prior to 1898, it was the capital of colonial Portuguese East Africa. With its rich history and sandy beaches, the Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Mozambique's fastest growing tourist destinations. It has a permanent population of approximately 14,000 people and is served by nearby Lumbo Airport on the Nampula mainland. The island was a major Arab port and boat building center in the years before Vasco da Gama visited in 1498.

NAMIBIA

Namibia is located on the southwestern coast of the continent. It is bordered by Angola to the north, Zambia to the northeast, Botswana to the east, South Africa to the southeast and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It ranges from arid in the north to desert on the coast and in the east. The landscape is spectacular, but the desert, mountains, canyons, and savannas are perhaps better to see than to occupy. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek

Diogo Cao, from Portugal, became the first European to set foot on Namibian soil in 1485, with Bartholomeu Dias the second; however, due to the inhospitable Namib Desert neither went too far inland, according to World Atlas. In the 19th century, the German trader Adolf Luderitz bought a portion of the region for 10,000 marks and 260 guns. Relations between the natives and German settlers deteriorated as the new government encouraged the settlers to take land from the natives. In 1904 the rebellion escalated into the Herero and Namaqua Wars. Under the leadership of chief Samuel Maharero, the Hereros had the upper hand, and had little problem with defending themselves due to their knowledge of the terrain. In response, Germany sent 14,000 additional troops to subdue the situation, and at the Battle of Waterberg the Hereros were issued an ultimatum to leave the country or be killed.

What followed was the Herero and Namaqua Genocide, as Hereros escaped into the waterless Omaheke region in the Kalahari Desert where many died of thirst, and the rest were at the mercy of German forces whose orders were to shoot any male Herero on sight. An estimated 50-70% of the total Herero population, and approximately 50% of the Nama population perished. On October 7, 2007, descendants of Lothar von Trotha, the General who led the German attacks on the Hereros and Namas, issued an apology for the actions of their ancestors. South Africa occupied the German colony of South-West Africa during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II, when it annexed the territory. The South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence in 1966 for the area that was soon named Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on March 21st 1990. Hifikepunye Pohamba was elected president in November 2004 in a landslide victory replacing Sam Nujoma who led the country during its first 14 years of self-rule. Pohamba was re-elected in the 2009 elections by an overwhelming vote.

Namibia has abundant natural resources with Mining as central to the economy; accounting for just under 30 percent of the GDP, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Diamonds, uranium oxide, and base metals dominate mining; however, gold and natural gas are increasingly significant, and oil production (offshore and in the Etosha basin) is potentially so. Namibia supplies about 30 percent of the world diamond output. The Namibian diamond industry is valued at over $1 billion, and its diamonds are valued at around $600 per carat meaning it has the highest value per carat diamonds in the world. Most of Namibia’s diamonds come from the ocean. Significant resources go into mining these diamonds. Other important minerals include tin, lithium, lead, cadmium, zinc, copper, tungsten, and silver. In 2013, global business and financial news provider, Bloomberg, named Namibia the top emerging market economy in Africa and the 13th best in the world. Only four African countries made the Top 20 Emerging Markets list in the March 2013 issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, and Namibia was rated ahead of Morocco (19th), South Africa (15th) and Zambia (14th). Worldwide, Namibia also fared better than Hungary, Brazil and Mexico. Bloomberg Markets magazine ranked the top 20 based on more than a dozen criteria. The data came from Bloomberg's own financial-market statistics, IMF forecasts and the World Bank. The countries were also rated on areas of particular interest to foreign investors: the ease of doing business, the perceived level of corruption and economic freedom. In order to attract foreign investment, the government has made improvement in reducing red tape resulted from excessive government regulations making the country one of the least bureaucratic places to do business in the region. However, facilitation payments are occasionally demanded by customs due to cumbersome and costly customs procedures. Namibia is also classified as an Upper Middle Income country by the World Bank, and ranks 87th out of 185 economies in terms of ease of doing business

The nomadic San people were the only inhabitants of Namibia until around 2,000 years ago, then, over the centuries many ethnic groups began to settle the land. Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia. The majority of the Namibian population is of Bantu-speaking origin – mostly of the Ovambo ethnicity, which forms about half of the population. Other ethnic groups are the Herero and Himba people, who speak a similar language, and the Damara, who speak the same "click" language as the Nama. There are also two smaller groups of people with mixed racial origins, called "Coloureds" and "Basters." Up to 1990, English, German and Afrikaans were official languages. Currently, English is  the only  official language and the Ovambo languages are spoken by more than 80% of the population.

 

Travelers journey here to tour the barren red-sand deserts, and the highest sand dunes in the world in Namib National Park. Landmarks and major tourist sites includes:

  • Okaukuejo waterhole (Etosha National Park) Twyfelfontein (Damaraland)

  • Kolmanskop Ghost Town (Luderitz)

  • Swakopmund Jetty (Swakopmund)

  • Christuskirche (Windhoek)

  • Walvis Bay Waterfront (Walvis Bay)

  • Katutura Township (Windhoek)

  • Diaz Point (Luderitz)

  • Hoba Meteorite (Grootfontein)

  • Tropic of Capricorn Sign (Solitaire)

  • Felsenkirche (Luderitz)

  • Okapuka Ranch (Windhoek)

  • Spreetshoogte Pass (Namib-Naukluft Park)

  • The Goerke House (Luderitz)

  • Woermannhaus (Swakopmund)

  • Otjikandero Himba Orphan Village (Kamanjab).

Cuisine in Namibia is influenced by two primary cultural strands: Cookery practiced by indigenous people of Namibia such as the Himba, Herero and San groups. Settler cookery introduced during the colonial period by people of German, Afrikaner and British descent. The traditional dishes  such as braaivleis (meat barbeque) is a tasty meal, as is potjiekos, a spicy stew of meat, chicken and fish. Traditional German-style confectionery including classics such as; Schwarzwälder, Kirschtorte, and Apfelstrudel as well as the renowned Springer chocolates produced in Windhoek.

Music in Namibia has a number of folk styles, as well as pop, rock, reggae, jazz, house and hip hop. Traditional Namibian dance occurs at events such as weddings and at traditional festivals such as the Caprivi Arts Festival. Folk music accompanies storytelling or dancing. The Namaqua use various strings, flutes and drums while the Bantu use xylophones, gourds and horn trumpets.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Namibia include:

1. Twyfelfontein

Twyfelfontein (Afrikaans: uncertain spring), officially known as ǀUi-ǁAis (Damara/Nama: jumping waterhole), is a site of ancient rock engravings in the Kunene Region of north-western Namibia. It consists of a spring in a valley flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain that receives very little rainfall and has a wide range of diurnal temperatures. The site has been inhabited for 6,000 years, first by hunter-gatherers and later by Khoikhoi herders. Both ethnic groups used it as a place of worship and a site to conduct shamanist rituals. In the process of these rituals at least 2,500 items of rock carvings have been created, as well as a few rock paintings. Displaying one of the largest concentrations of rock petroglyphs in Africa, UNESCO approved Twyfelfontein as Namibia's first World Heritage Site in 2007.

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