Namibia Country Facts

By | June 24, 2024
Namibia
Capital city Wind angle
Surface 825,418 km²
Population 2,550,000
Road network length 5,378 km
Length of highway network 93 km
First highway 1979
Motorway name freeway
Traffic drives Left
License plate code NAM

Namibia, formally the Republic of Namibia, is a large country in southern Africa. The country is approximately 20 times the size of the Netherlands and has 2.5 million inhabitants, making it one of the least densely populated countries in the world. The capital is Windhoek.

Lonely roads through Namibia.

Geography

Namibia occupies a large part of the western coast of southern Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. The country borders Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south. The Caprivi Strip is a narrow strip of land in Namibia that stretches much further east than the rest of the country. Namibia measures a maximum of 1300 kilometers from north to south and almost 1000 kilometers from east to west (excluding Caprivi).

The country consists of plateaus, ridges and deserts. The Namibian desert is located on the west coast and is largely a rock/sand desert. The Kalahari Desert lies inland and is more of a sandy savanna and high plateau. Much of the interior is located at 1200 to 1600 meters above sea level, with a north-south oriented mountain ridge slightly inland. The 2573 meter high Brandberg is the highest point in Namibia. In the north is the Etosha Pan, a salt flat that is sometimes filled with water after rain.

Namibia largely has a dry subtropical climate, with a desert climate in the west and south. However, the temperature is tempered by the high elevation of much of the country. Precipitation ranges from nearly zero in the west to about 600mm in the Caprivi Strip. The average maximum temperature in the capital Windhoek ranges from 20 °C in winter to 30 °C in summer. Frost is not uncommon in the mountains.

Demographics

Windhoek.

Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. In 1950, the country had only 500,000 inhabitants, which grew to 2.5 million in 2016. The population density is highest in the north and lowest in the south. The country has one larger city, the capital Windhoek, which has approximately 430,000 inhabitants. In addition, there are 9 regional towns with between 20,000 and 60,000 inhabitants.

The population of Namibia is largely made up of Bantu tribes. Namibia has the largest proportion of whites in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, at 4-7%, mostly of African, German, British or Portuguese descent. Most whites speak Afrikaans. There are still traditionally German communities in Namibia.

The original official languages ​​were English, German and Afrikaans. Later it was decided to make English the official language, although it is only spoken as a mother tongue by a very small part of the population. The most widely spoken language is Ovambo, which is mainly spoken in the north.

Economy

Namibia is one of the more developed countries in Africa, but with a large income inequality. The standard of living differs greatly between urban and rural areas. In rural areas, the economy is largely informal and based on subsistence farming. The largest economic sectors are mining, agriculture and tourism, but the service sector accounts for the most employment. For such a sparsely populated country, it has a relatively developed infrastructure. The economy of Namibia is closely intertwined with that of South Africa. Tourism accounts for 18% of employment in Namibia, tourists mainly come for nature and safaris.

History

In the 14th century, the Bantu tribes began to migrate south from Central Africa, including into what is now Namibia. The first Europeans in the area were Portuguese in the late 15th century, but they made no attempt to populate the area. The region was little visited by Europeans until the mid-19th century. In 1884 the area became a German colony, known as Deutsch-Südwestafrika. This was larger in area than the German Empire in Europe at that time. During the First World War in 1915, the area was occupied by the British. It was thereafter under the administration of South Africa under the name South West Africa. It was directly under South African rule until 1978, then it had autonomy until Namibia became independent in 1990.

Namibia’s struggle for independence began in 1966 with a rebellion, however most of the conflict took place outside Namibia itself and was closely intertwined with the Angolan Civil War. This is known as the South African Border War, during which South African forces protected Namibia’s northern border from rebel infiltration from Angola and also carried out offensive actions deep into Angola. South Africa eventually came up against Cuba, which supported the Marxist government of Angola with large-scale troop build-ups. The 1988 ‘Tripartite Accord’ agreed that foreign troops would withdraw from Angola and Namibia would gain independence from South Africa.

The strategic port of Walvis Bay was still under South African administration until 1994. Namibia has been a stable democracy ever since. In 1999, the Caprivi conflict still took place, in which rebels in the Caprivi Strip attempted to secede from Namibia. However, this was quickly suppressed. Due to the stable situation, Namibia became an important tourist destination.

 

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