Ganvié, Benin : The Venice of Africa The Water People of Nokoue Lake
Ganvié is a lake village on stilts in Benin, Africa, in Lake Nokoué, near Cotonou. With a population of around 20,000 people, it is probably the largest lake village in Africa and is very popular with tourists.
The village was created in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries by the Tofinu people who took to the lake to avoid Fon warriors who were capturing other ethnic groups to sell as slaves to European traders, often in exchange for weapons. The shallow waters and islands of Lake Nokoue are something of a haven as many Africans cannot swim. The people of the capitol, Cotonou often say that the people of Ganvié "are not men, but fish", because everybody can swim. The Ganvié villagers are often referred to as "water men" and the area itself is often called the "Venice of Africa".
The village's main industries other than tourism are fishing and fish farming. The only means of transportation to and from the village is through wooden boats.