Lake Nokoué is in what is now Benin in West Africa. The country was known as the Republic of Dahomey from 1958 until 1975 when the more neutral name of Benin was chosen. In a lagoon at the northern edge of the 20km long by 11km wide lake is the village of Ganvie.
In the late 16th or early 17th century the Tofinu people saved themselves from the attacking Fon people who had made a deal with the Portuguese to hunt and sell other people from smaller ethnic groups. Someone realized they could take advantage of the Fon religion that forbade the warriors from entering water (something about a water demon) and a plan was hatched to build their new community on stilts in the lake.
It's the largest lake village in Africa with about 20,000 inhabitants and is now a UNESCO World heritage Site.
All of the houses and shops - plus a hotel and a couple of restaurants - are built on wooden stilts several feet above the water. A patch of dry land was made by importing soil in their boats to house the school and more soil is being imported in order to build a cemetery. The lagoon is not deep and several small islands pop up and are used to house a few domesticated animals, though the main livestock is fish from an intricate system of underwater corrals.
These stamps are from 1960.
Here are some recent photos, found on the internet, of the lake village.
This is apparently quite a tourist attraction, though it mostly seems to consists of being ferried around in a boat watching the local people go about their daily business. Still it would be fascinating to see. Of course, this being Benin - at 6º north of the equator - I'm sure it gets unbearably hot and humid. And I'm thinking with all that water (where all the waste presumably goes) quite odorous.
for SundayStamps II showing places to live.