Namibia Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Namibia > Map Economy History

Etosha National Park 
Namibia Nature Foundation
Namibia Environment and Wildlife Society

Facts About Namibia

Background: South Africa occupied the German colony of Sud-West Afrika during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II when it annexed the territory. In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that was soon named Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Independence came in 1990.
Government type: republic
Capital: Windhoek
Currency: 1 Namibian dollar (N$) = 100 cents

Geography of Namibia

Location: Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and South Africa
Geographic coordinates: 22 00 S, 17 00 E
Area:
total: 825,418 sq km
land: 825,418 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 3,824 km
border countries: Angola 1,376 km, Botswana 1,360 km, South Africa 855 km, Zambia 233 km
Coastline: 1,572 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic
Terrain: mostly high plateau; Namib Desert along coast; Kalahari Desert in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Konigstein 2,606 m
Natural resources: diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, zinc, salt, vanadium, natural gas, hydropower, fish
note: suspected deposits of oil, coal, and iron ore
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 46%
forests and woodland: 22%
other: 31% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 60 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: prolonged periods of drought
Environment - current issues: very limited natural fresh water resources; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution; some 14% of the land is protected, including virtually the entire Namib Desert coastal strip.

People of Namibia

Namibians are of diverse ethnic origins. The principal groups are the Ovambo, Kavango, Herero/Himba, Damara, mixed race ("Colored" and Rehoboth Baster), white (Afrikaner, German, and Portuguese), Nama, Caprivian (Lozi), Bushman, and Tswana.

The Ovambo make up about half of Namibia's people. The Ovambo, Kavango, and East Caprivian peoples, who occupy the relatively well-watered and wooded northern part of the country, are settled farmers and herders. Historically, they have shown little interest in the central and southern parts of Namibia, where conditions do not suit their traditional way of life.

Until the early 1900s, these tribes had little contact with the Nama, Damara, and Herero, who roamed the central part of the country vying for control of sparse pastureland. German colonial rule destroyed the warmaking ability of the tribes but did not erase their identities or traditional organization. People from the more populous north have settled throughout the country in recent decades as a result of urbanization, industrialization, and the demand for labor.

The modern mining, farming, and industrial sectors of the economy, controlled by the white minority, have affected traditional African society without transforming it. Urban and migratory workers have adopted Western ways, but in rural areas, traditional society remains intact.

Missionary work during the 1800s drew many Namibians to Christianity. While most Namibian Christians are Lutheran, there also are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, African Methodist Episcopal, and Dutch Reformed Christians represented.

Modern education and medical care have been extended in varying degrees to most rural areas in recent years. The literacy rate of Africans is generally low except in sections where missionary and government education efforts have been concentrated, such as Ovamboland. The Africans speak various indigenous languages.

The minority white population is primarily of South African, British, and German descent. About 60% of the whites speak Afrikaans (a variation of Dutch), 30% speak German, and 10% speak English.

Population: 2,030,692 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  42.74% 
15-64 years:  53.54% 
65 years and over:  3.72% 
Population growth rate: 1.38% 
Birth rate: 34.71 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 20.9 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 71.66 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  40.62 years
male:  42.48 years
female:  38.71 years 
Total fertility rate: 4.83 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Namibian(s)
adjective: Namibian
Ethnic groups: black 87.5%, white 6%, mixed 6.5%
note: about 50% of the population belong to the Ovambo tribe and 9% to the Kavangos tribe; other ethnic groups are: Herero 7%, Damara 7%, Nama 5%, Caprivian 4%, Bushmen 3%, Baster 2%, Tswana 0.5%.
Religions: Christian 80% to 90% (Lutheran 50% at least), indigenous beliefs 10% to 20%
Languages: English 7% (official), Afrikaans common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population, German 32%, indigenous languages: Oshivambo, Herero, Nama.
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38%
male: 45%
female: 31% (1960 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Namibia > Map Economy History