The Republic of Namibia
is a country in southwestern Africa, on the Atlantic coast. It is bordered by Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa to the south. It gained independence from South Africa in 1990, and as such it is one of the youngest nations in the world. Its capital is Windhoek.
History of Namibia
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua, and since about the fourteenth century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. The region was not extensively explored by Europeans until the 19th century, when the land came under German control as South-West Africa — apart from Walvis Bay under British control. South Africa occupied the colony during World War I and administered it as a League of Nations mandate territory until after World War II, when it unilaterally annexed the territory, albeit without international recognition.
In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration of Namibia, in accordance with a United Nations peace plan for the entire region. Independence came in 1990, and Walvis Bay was ceded to Namibia in 1994.
Map of Namibia: »click here«
Namibia Distance Chart (PDF): »click«
Politics of Namibia
The Namibian head of state is the president, elected by popular vote every five years. The government is headed by the prime minister, who, together with his cabinet, is appointed by the president. SWAPO, the primary force behind independence, has since moved away from its Marxist roots, and is still currently the country’s largest party.
Namibia’s bicameral parliament consists of the National Council with twenty six seats, occupied by two members chosen from each regional council to serve six-year terms; and the National Assembly of seventy eight seats, of which seventy two members are elected by popular vote, and six non-voting members are appointed by the president. All seventy eight serve five-year terms.
The Assembly is the primary legislative body, with the Council playing more of an advisory role. The 1990 constitution is noted for being one of the first to incorporate protection of the environment into its text. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, whose judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
The Namibian landscape consists primarily of central highlands, of which the highest point is the Brandberg at 2,606 m. The central plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the west, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east. A remarkable strip of land in the northeast, known as the Caprivi Strip is the vestige of a narrow corridor demarcated for Germany to access the Zambezi River.
The Namibian climate ranges from desert to subtropical, and is generally hot and dry; precipitation is sparse and erratic. The cold, north-flowing Benguela current accounts for some of the low precipitation. Besides the capital city Windhoek in the centre of the country, other important towns are the ports of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, as well as Oshakati, Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Keetmanshoop.
The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 20% of the GDP. Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa, and the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten.
About half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence agriculture) for its livelihood. Namibia must import some of its food. Although per capita GDP is five times the per capita GDP of Africa’s poorest countries, the majority of Namibia’s people live in pronounced poverty because of large-scale unemployment, the great inequality of income distribution, and the large amount of wealth going to foreigners. The Namibian economy has many close links to South Africa. Agreement has been reached on the privatisation of several more enterprises in coming years, which should stimulate long-run foreign investment.by
The majority of the Namibian population consists of a mostly black African (Bantu and Khoisan) (84%) – mostly of the Ovambo tribe, which forms about half of the population, concentrated in the north of the country. In addition to the black Bantu majority, there are large groups of Khoisan (e.g. Nama and Bushmen), who are descendants of the original inhabitants of Southern Africa. Khoisan differ significantly in appearance from both Bantu and whites. There are also two smaller groups of people with mixed racial origins, called “Coloureds” and “Basters”, who together make up 8% (with the Coloureds outnumbering the Basters two to one). Whites of Dutch, German, British, French and Portuguese ancestry make up about 8% of the population—which is the second largest proportion in sub-Saharan Africa, after South Africa). Most of Namibian whites and nearly all those of mixed race are Afrikaans speakers and share similar origins, culture, religion and genealogy as the white and coloured populations of neighbouring South Africa. A smaller proportion of whites (around 20,000) trace their family origins directly back to German settlers and maintain German cultural and educational institutions.
Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo (Ovambo) as their first language, whereas the most widely understood language is Afrikaans. Among the younger generation, the most widely understood language is English. Both Afrikaans and English are used primarily as a second language reserved for public sphere communication, but small first language groups exist throughout the country. While the official language is English, most of the white population speaks either Afrikaans or German, both official languages until 1990 when Namibia became independent. Christianity is the major religion, with the Lutheran Church being the largest.