Africa is the third-largest continent in the world after the Americas, and the second most populous after Asia. With a land area of 30 million square kilometers, Africa constitutes 20.3% of the total landmass of the Earth.
Many of us might assume that Africa is a dry and arid place, which is a reasonable thought given the presence of numerous deserts on the continent, such as the Sahara Desert and the Kalahari Desert.
But did you know that, despite its reputation for aridity, there’s a place in Africa where a floating village exists? This floating village is known as Ganvie.
Ganvie is a floating village located on Lake Nokoue in Benin, West Africa. It has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Benin due to the uniqueness and the beautiful scenery of a village floating on water.
Ganvie was founded in the 18th century by the Tofinu people, who sought to escape slavery. They built this floating village in the middle of the lake to make it more difficult for colonial powers to reach them. The floating village stands as a symbol of the Tofinu people’s courage in resisting colonial domination.
The population of Ganvie consists of around 30,000 residents who live in over 3,000 floating houses. Small canoes called “Pirogues” are the primary mode of transportation here. The villagers engage in various occupations, including fishing, farming, and handicrafts. They are renowned for their fishing skills, and their catch is sold in markets around Benin.
One of the unique aspects of Ganvie is the floating houses inhabited by its residents. These houses are constructed from wood, tied together with bamboo, and supported by wooden pillars planted in the lake bed. Each house has a thatched roof to provide protection from the sun and rain, although some now have metal roofs.
The residents of Ganvie have a tradition of fishing using nets and traditional wooden boats called “pirogues.” Pirogues are designed specifically for navigating shallow waters. The villagers typically use these boats for fishing and trading in the markets around the lake.
Despite living on the water, the people of Ganvie have a relatively complete and organized life. They have schools, healthcare centers, markets, and places of worship. They also take care of the environment around their village by maintaining the cleanliness of the lake and regularly repairing their houses.
Today, Ganvie has become a popular tourist attraction in Benin. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the floating village, learn about the local way of life, and savor Benin’s traditional cuisine, which includes fish dishes and rice with local spices. According to local tourism authorities, approximately 10,000 tourists visit the lake village every year. As a result, tourism is gradually replacing fishing as Ganvie’s primary source of income.
However, like other floating villages, the people of Ganvie also face various challenges, including floods and water pollution. Therefore, the government of Benin and non-governmental organizations are working together to improve the villagers’ quality of life and preserve the environment around the lake.”