This unusual village called Ganvie was built right in the middle of Lake Nokoué in the West African nation of Benin. With a population of around 20,000 people, it is probably the largest lake village in Africa and as such is very popular with tourists.
The village was originally established in the late 16th or early 17th centuries by a tribe called the Tofinu. The reason that the Tofinu decided to build their village on the lake is quite extraordinary. They did so because a local slave trading tribe known as the Dahomey had been attacking them for years, but the Dahomey’s religion forbade their warriors from entering water, therefore the lagoon became a safe territory for the Tofinu people and eventually other tribes.
Arial photo of Ganvie, the whole village is located out in the lake.
The villagers don’t have to fear slave traders any more, but they still live on the lake, as they have done for centuries.
Originally based on farming, the village’s main industries are now fishing and fish farming…
…well, and tourism.
The villagers get from house to house using canoes.
All of Ganvie’s houses, shops and restaurants are built on wooden stilts, several feet above the water.
Fisherman trap and breed fish using underwater fences made from bamboo and nets.
What a truly unique place to live, although it would suck if you were born there and afraid of water.