The Republic of Namibia is a state in southwestern Africa bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa to the south.
The capital of Namibia is Windhoek, which is also the largest city in the country. The official languages are English and other national languages such as Guerero, Ovambo, Nama, Damara and others.
Namibia is one of the most developed countries in Africa, and its economy is mainly based on the extraction of mineral resources such as diamonds, uranium, copper, and lead. Tourism is also an important sector of the economy, thanks to the national parks and nature reserves as well as the country’s unique culture and history.
Namibia is known for its rich and diverse fauna, including African elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes, zebras and other wildlife. One of the most famous national parks is Etosah, which is located in the northwest of the country and is home to many animal species.
“Namib”, or “the place where there is nothing,” is the name given to the oldest (about 80 million years old) and one of the most arid deserts in the world by the Nama people of Africa. The Nama themselves live in the southern and northern parts of present-day Namibia, which occupies a large area of southwestern Africa between the Namib and Kalahari deserts. To the west the coast of the country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and meets sea travelers with the inhospitable expanse of the Namib Desert.
Rock carvings show that the first inhabitants 25,000 years ago were tribes of hunter-gatherers, ancestors of the San (Bushmen). Gradually, the Bantu tribes of cattle-breeders (Guerero, Himba, etc.) began to move here from the north. As a result, from the 15th century the San were pushed deep into the country until their places of residence were reduced to the Kalahari Desert. In the north of Namibia there were settlements of natives from Central Africa, sedentary Ovambo tribes, representatives of which earlier than others mastered copper and iron ore mining and created “kingdoms” of the first state formations on this territory. Now their descendants constitute more than half of the population of Namibia, although it is in some sense a multinational country: the Ovambo subethnic groups alone have more than ten, and people from Holland, Germany and France have formed their own Afrikaner people speaking Afrikaans (based on Dutch).
The first person to set foot on the territory of present-day Namibia was the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias de Novais (circa 1450-1500). Europeans began to develop these lands only by the end of the XVIII century, when they began to move to the right bank of the Orange River, which partially outlines the territory of present-day Namibia from the south. Prior to that, the “zone of European influence” was limited to the first (Dutch) settlement in South Africa – the Cape Colony. It appeared in Table Bay near the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 thanks to the activities of the Dutch navigator and explorer Johan Antonison “Jan” van Riebeek (1619-1677). While working for the Dutch East India Company (1602-1798), van Riebeeck was commissioned by it to establish a settlement in the south of the African continent. It later became Cape Town, and the most successful Dutch colony developed around it. Some Europeanized tribes also moved north, conquering inferior nations along the way. In 1825-1861 a special military-territorial formation was formed which was headed by the chief Jonker Afrikaaner (approx. 1790-1861) who subdued many tribes. During his reign the port city of Wolfish Bay, founded by the British in “Whale Bay” in 1795, flourished and became a major center of trade in ivory and other African gifts. Later diamonds were discovered here and now a no-tourism zone begins in the mining areas outside the town.
In the aftermath, many (including the British and Germans) fought for Wolfish Bay. Under Yonker Afrikaaner, who created the first, but short-lived association of Namibians, Rhine missionaries who spread Christianity (Lutheranism) entered the territory of Namibia. Germany had long been interested in these lands. In 1884, it declared the property of the Bremen merchant Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz (1834-1886) a protectorate, who had purchased the Bay of Angra-Peken (formerly the Bay of St. Christopher, discovered by Portuguese Dias, the only stony place suitable for a harbor) along with the surrounding area from one of the chiefs. Lüderitz failed to find minerals, and, disappointed with the purchase, he resold it to the German South African Colonial Society, which in turn turned it over to the government. Gradually the Germans developed new territories. Germany had little colonial land. Her government invested heavily in the development of the few it possessed, so the German period in the country’s history is associated with the flourishing of Namibia, many of whose cities still retain features of German architecture. After the defeat in the First World War Germany lost the territory and since 1920 Namibia was given over to the South African Union (known since 1961 as South Africa), which continued to interfere in Namibian politics for a long time and fought bloody battles in the years of the South African Border War (1966-1989). But in 1990 the country succeeded in gaining independence, and by 2003 the border territorial disputes with its neighbors were settled.
A developed network of land transport (railroads and highways) and one of the best ports in West Africa – Wolfish Bay make Namibia the most important transport hub of the vast African region. The country’s economy is based on income from raw material exports, with minerals (in particular diamonds), livestock and fisheries playing an important role. Namibia’s main meat and fish markets are in Europe, and diamonds are world famous: up to 98% of production is high quality gemstones, and their total reserves, concentrated on the Atlantic coast and adjacent shelf zone, exceed 35 million carats. Namibia is an important source of uranium ores (about 136,000 tons of reserves) and is the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium oxide, yielding about 10% of the world’s production. Large areas have been surrendered for oil exploration, and natural gas has been discovered. The mining industry is actively supported by foreign capital. Despite all this wealth, the average monthly per capita income here is no more than $150, but even that income is very unevenly distributed. In 2005, 34.9% of the population lived on less than $1 a day (the UN poverty line) and 55.8% lived on less than $2 a day. Namibia is one of the most unequal countries in the world in terms of income distribution.
After mining and manufacturing, the third largest sector of the economy is the booming tourism industry, which provides a large number of jobs in addition to direct income. In addition to museums and natural parks, there is a unique opportunity to surf the desert sands, visit a rookery of seals, see the extinct ghost town of Colmanshoop and a real graveyard of dead ships in the coastal sands – Skeleton Coast.
- Official name: Republic of Namibia.
- Form of government: republic.
- Administrative divisions: 13 regions.
- Capital city: Windhoek, 342,000 (2009).
- Languages: English (but in fact: Afrikaans – up to 60%, German – about 32%).
- Ethnic composition: 87.5% Africans (of which about 50% are Ovambo, 7% Herero, 7% Damara, 5% Nama, 3% Bushmen), 6% Europeans, 6.5% mulatto.
- Religion: Christians 80 to 90% (of which 50% are Lutherans), local beliefs 10 to 20%.
- Currency unit: Namibian dollar.
- Major cities: Windhoek, Wolfish Bay, Swakopmund.
- Major seaport: Wallfish Bay.
- Major airport: Josea Kutako International Airport (Windhoek).
- Area: 824,292 sq km.
- Population: 2,147,585 (2011).
- Population density: 2.6 people/km2.
- GDP: $ 14.6 billion (2010).
- Industry: mining (diamonds, uranium, zinc, copper, lead, tin, silver, gold, feldspar, pyrites, manganese, salt and natural (granite and marble) and semiprecious stones (tourmaline, aquamarine, agate, topaz), minerals with semiconducting properties (rinerite, zumembite, stottite), energy.
- Agriculture: animal breeding (cattle breeding; meat production; sheep breeding – skins of Karakul sheep for export); plant growing (cotton, maize, groundnuts, beans, dates, grapes, tobacco, fruits).
- Fish canneries.
- Oyster farms.
- Services: tourism, transport.
Climate and weather
- Average temperature in January: +22ºC.
- Average temperature in July: +14ºC.
- Average annual rainfall: 25 to 100 mm on the coastline and 500 to 700 mm in the northeastern part of the mainland.
- Namib Desert; Fish River Canyon: rock paintings of Apollo 11 (27,000 years old); Hrutfontein (the world’s largest Goba meteorite); Etosha National Park: Skeleton Coast National Park; Epupa Falls; Damara Plateau; Cape Cross Nature Reserve.
- Windhoek City: Christ Lutheran Church (1896-1819), Old German Fort (XIX c.), three castles (XIX-XX c.), National Museum of Namibia, National Gallery
- City of Swakopmund: Private Museum of Swakopmund (1951), lighthouse (1903), barracks (1903), the Hohenzollern House (1904-1906), the building of the old railway station (1903), German Lutheran Church (1912), a monument to the German seamen, the museum “Crystal Gallery”, Oceanarium, Voermann House (1905)
- City of Keetmanshoop: Church of the Rhine Mission (1895), Imperial Post Office (1910).
- City of Ochivarongo: nursery for crocodiles and shepherd dogs, center for the cheetah
- Lüderitz city: “diamond palace” Görke-Haus (1909), the church on the rock (1912), mansions in the style of German colonial architecture.
- Mr. Lüderitz’s purchase of Namibian land went down in history as “mile fraud”: only after the contract was signed was it explained to the local chief that Prussian miles (7.5 km) were meant, not the much smaller English miles (1.8 km). So the chief was selling about 2,600 km2 and ended up selling 45,000 km2.
- In Lüderitz there was a German concentration camp for the natives. Whole families of those taken prisoner during the uprisings were taken there. At the time of liberation it was discovered that 450 of the 2,000 prisoners were still alive.
- Namibia has the largest salt marsh in Africa – the Etosha salt marsh (about 5000 km2).
- In the mid-19th century whalers fished off the Namibian coast. And on Ichabo Island near Luderitz, the naturally decomposed remains of bat and seabird droppings – guano – were mined.