Official Name: Republic of Namibia
Capital City: Windhoek.
Languages: English, German, Afrikaans (offical, Indo-Germanic languages);
Bantu languages spoken by Owambo, Herero, Kavango, Caprivians and Tswana; Khoisan languages spoken by the Bushmen, Nama and Damara.
Official Currency: Namibian dollar (NAD)
Religions: Christians 80%, with at least 50% of these Lutheran.
Population: 2 100 000 (2009). After Mongolia, Namibia is the least densely populated country in the world (2.5 inhabitants per square kilometre). Growth rate 2,6% per year for the last 15 years.
Land Area: 825 418 sq km.
Environment: Situated on the south western Atlantic coast, it borders Angola and Zambia in the north, South Africa in the south and Botswana in the east. In the far north east is the Caprivi Strip, an elongated panhandle consisting of tropical riverine swampalands and bordered by four countries – Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Landforms: The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas,
each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation with some variation within and overlap between them:
the Central Plateau, the Namib Desert, the Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.
Although the climate is generally extremely dry, there are a few exceptions.
The cold, north-flowing Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean accounts for some of the low precipitation.
Land Divisions: Namibia is divided into 13 regions and subdivided into 102 constituencies
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD,
by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion.
Namibia’s varied geographical features have played a significant role in the history of the Namibian people.
A relatively stable water supply and the well-wooded terrain in the north-eastern regions of the country encouraged cattle farming and agricultural practices by the
Owambo people and tribes along Okawango River.
Among the earliest inhabitants of the central and southern areas were the Bushmen, who were hunter-gatherers;
the Damara, about whom little is known other than that theywere hunters and to a lesser extent pastoralists;
and the Nama, who were nomadic cattle farmers.
According to Herodotus, the first sailors to circumnavigate the continent Africa were Phoenicians.
The first Europeans to disembark and explore the region were the Portuguese navigators Diego Cao
in 1485 and Bartolomeu Dias in 1486, still the region was not claimed by the Portuguese crown.
In 1486 Diego Cao planted a stone cross at Cape Cross, about 130 km north of Swakopmund.
A second cross was planted in 1488 by Bartolomeu Dias at Dias Point in the bay of Andra Pequena (Little Bay), the Luderitz of today.
However, like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia was not extensively explored by Europeans until the 19th century.
The Swedish adventurer and explorer, Charles John Andersson, was the first person to refer to today’s Namibia as South West Africa, as he called it in his travel journals.
The first missionaries established mission stations at Warmbad and Blyderwacht in 1805.
Namibia was proclaimed a German protectorate by Bismarck in 1884.
The country became a German colony and was known as German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Sudwestafrika) – apart from Walvis Bay, which was under British control.
From 1904 to 1907, the Herero and the Namaqua took up arms against the Germans and in the subsequent Herero and Namaqua genocide, 10,000 Nama
(half the population) and 25,000 to 100,000 Herero (three quarters of the population) were killed.
South Africa occupied the colony during World War I and administered it as a League of Nations mandate territory.
Following the League's supersession by the United Nations in 1946, South Africa refused to surrender its earlier mandate to be replaced by a
United Nations Trusteeship agreement, requiring closer international monitoring of the territory's administration.
Although the South African government wanted to incorporate 'South-West Africa' into its territory, it never officially did so,
although it was administered as the de facto 'fifth province', with the white minority having representation in the whites-only Parliament of South Africa.
In 1966, the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) military wing, People's Liberation Army of Namibia, a 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.
Transition for independence started in 1989 but it was only on 21 March 1990 in which the country officially claimed full independence.
In 1989 the implementation of United Nations Resolution 435 for free and fair elections resulted in Swapo coming to power.
On March 21, 1990, after 106 years of foreign rule, Namibia achieved independence. Walvis Bay was ceded to Namibia in 1994 upon the end of Apartheid in South Africa.
Sam Nujoma was instated at the as the country’s first president, stepping down in 2005 after serving three terms.
He was succeeded by Hifikepunye Pohamba, former Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation. Willem Konjore is the new Minister of Environment and Tourism,
with Leon Jooste as his deputy.
Namibia -- Economy --
Namibia’s economy consists primarily of mining and manufacturing which represent 8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) respectively.
Namibia has a 30-40% unemployment rate and recently passed a 2004 labour act to protect people from job discrimination stemming from pregnancy and HIV/AIDS status.
Namibia’s economy is tied closely to South Africa’s due to their shared history.The Central Plateau serves as a transportation corridor from the more densely
populated north to South Africa, the source of four-fifths of Namibia’s imports.Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the
world's fifth largest producer of uranium. There has been significant investment in uranium mining and Namibia is set to become the largest exporter of uranium by 2015.
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, but Namibia must still 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 rural areas
and exist on a subsistence way of life. Namibia has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, due in part to the fact that there is an
urban economy and a more rural cash-less economy. The inequality figures thus take into account people who do not actually rely on the formal economy for their survival.
Agreement has been reached on the privatisation of several more enterprises in coming years, with hopes that this will stimulate much needed foreign investment.
However, reinvestment of environmentally derived capital has hobbled Namibian per capita income. One of the fastest growing areas of economic development in Namibia
is the growth of wildlife conservancies. These conservancies are particularly important to the rural generally unemployed population.
Namibia generally attracts eco-tourists with the majority visiting to experience the different climates and natural geographical landscapes such as the great
eastern desert and plains. There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding and 4x4ing have
become popular, and many cities have companies that provide tours.
The most visited places include the Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast Park, Sesriem, Etosha Pan and the coastal towns of Swakopmund,
Walvis Bay and Luderitz.
Namibia -- Culture --
Namibia has compulsory free education for 10 years between the ages of 6 and 16 with 7 years of Primary education and 5 years of secondary education.
There are four Teacher Training Colleges, three Colleges of Agriculture, a Police Training College, a Polytechnic and a National University.
In 1998, there were 400,325 Namibian students in primary school, about 80% of those eligible, and 115,237 students in secondary schools,
about 34% of those eligible. The pupil-teacher ratio in 1999 was estimated at 32:1, with about 8% of the GDP being spent on education.
Most schools in Namibia are state-run, however, there are a few private and semi-private schools that serve the country's education system.
These are St. Pauls College, Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaatskool and Windhoek Gymnasium.
Namibia is the only country in the world to specifically address conservation and protection of natural resources in its constitution.
Article 95 states, “The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting international policies aimed at the following:
maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilization of living natural resources on a
sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.”
In 1993, the newly formed government of Namibia received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through
its Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism with the financial support from organizations such as
USAID, Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF, and Canadian Ambassador’s Fund, together form a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) support structure.
The main goal of this project is to promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.
Namibia -- Political system, law and government --
The politics of Namibia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the president of Namibia is
elected to a five-year term and is both the head of state and the head of government, and of a multi-party system.
Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the bicameral Parliament,
the National Assembly and the National Council. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Namibia follows a largely independent foreign policy, with lingering affiliations with states that aided the independence struggle, including Libya and Cuba.
With a small army and a fragile economy, the Namibian Government's principal foreign policy concern is developing strengthened ties within the Southern African region.
A dynamic member of the Southern African Development Community, Namibia is a vocal advocate for greater regional integration.
Namibia became the 160th member of the United Nations on 23 April 1990. On its independence it became the fiftieth member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Namibia is involved in several minor international disputes, including:
Small residual disputes with Botswana along the Caprivi Strip, including the Situngu marshlands and specifically Kasikili or Sedudu Island.
A dormant dispute over where the boundaries of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge.
Disputes over Angolan rebels and refugees residing in Namibia.