Top 10 things to do in Namibia

Namibia

One of Africa's premier destinations for eco-tourism and wildlife watching

Namibia is a country.

Namibia , officially the Republic of Namibia , and formerly South West Africa, is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates them at their closest points. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations , the Southern African Development Community , the African Union , and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by San, Damara, and Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. Most of the territory became a German Imperial protectorate in 1884 and remained a German colony until the end of World War I. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated the country to South Africa, which imposed its laws and, from 1948, its apartheid policy. The port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands had been annexed by the Cape Colony under the British crown by 1878 and had become an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910.

Uprisings and demands by African leaders led the UN to assume direct responsibility over the territory. It recognised the South West Africa People's Organisation as the official representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia, however, remained under South African administration during this time as South-West Africa. Following internal violence, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990, with the exception of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands, which remained under South African control until 1994.

Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals – form the basis of Namibia's economy. Given the presence of the arid Namib Desert, it is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Namibia enjoys high political, economic and social stability.

History

The name of the country is derived from the Namib Desert, considered to be the oldest desert in the world. Before its independence in 1990, the area was known first as German South-West Africa , then as South-West Africa, reflecting the colonial occupation by the Germans and the South Africans .

Pre-colonial period

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by San, Damara, Nama and, since about the 14th century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion from central Africa. From the late 18th century onwards, Orlam clans from the Cape Colony crossed the Orange River and moved into the area that today is southern Namibia. Their encounters with the nomadic Nama tribes were largely peaceful. The missionaries accompanying the Orlams were well received by them, the right to use waterholes and grazing was granted against an annual payment. On their way further northwards, however, the Orlams encountered clans of the Herero tribe at Windhoek, Gobabis, and Okahandja which were less accommodating. The Nama-Herero War broke out in 1880, with hostilities ebbing only when Imperial Germany deployed troops to the contested places and cemented the status quo between Nama, Orlams, and Herero.

The first Europeans to disembark and explore the region were the Portuguese navigators Diogo Cão in 1485 and Bartolomeu Dias in 1486; still the region was not claimed by the Portuguese crown. However, like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia was not extensively explored by Europeans until the 19th century, when traders and settlers arrived, principally from Germany and Sweden. In the late 19th century Dorsland trekkers crossed the area on their way from the Transvaal to Angola. Some of them settled in Namibia instead of continuing their journey. Others returned to South-West African territory after the Portuguese tried to convert them to Catholicism and forbade their language at schools.

German rule

Namibia became a German colony in 1884 under Otto von Bismarck to forestall British encroachment and was known as German South-West Africa . However, the Palgrave mission by the British governor in Cape Town had determined that only the natural deep-water harbour of Walvis Bay was worth occupying – and this was annexed to the Cape province of British South Africa.

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 and approximately 65,000 Hereros were killed by their German occupiers. The survivors, when finally released from detention, were subjected to a policy of dispossession, deportation, forced labour, racial segregation and discrimination in a system that in many ways anticipated apartheid.

Most Africans were confined to so-called native territories, which later under South African rule post-1949 were turned into "homelands" . Indeed, some historians have speculated that the German genocide in Namibia was a model used by Nazis in the Holocaust. The memory of genocide remains relevant to ethnic identity in independent Namibia and to relations with Germany.

South African rule

South Africa occupied the colony in 1915 after defeating the German force during World War I and administered it from 1919 onward as a League of Nations mandate territory. Although the South African government desired 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, as well as electing their own local administration the SWA Legislative Assembly. The South African government also appointed the SWA administrator, who had extensive powers.

Following the League's replacement 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 . The Herero Chief's Council submitted a number of petitions to the UN calling for it to grant Namibia independence during the 1950s. During the 1960s, when European powers granted independence to their colonies and trust territories in Africa, pressure mounted on South Africa to do so in Namibia. In 1966 the International Court of Justice dismissed a complaint brought by Ethiopia and Liberia against South Africa's continued presence in the territory, but the U.N. General Assembly subsequently revoked South Africa's mandate, while in 1971 the International Court of Justice issued an "advisory opinion" declaring South Africa's continued administration to be illegal.

In response to the 1966 ruling by the International Court of Justice, South-West Africa People's Organisation military wing, People's Liberation Army of Namibia, a guerrilla group began their armed struggle for independence, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its occupation of Namibia, in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. During the South African occupation of Namibia, white commercial farmers, most of whom came as settlers from South Africa and represented 0.2% of the national population, owned 74% of the arable land. Outside the central-southern area of Namibia , the country was divided into "homelands", the version of South African bantustan applied to Namibia, although only a few were actually established because indigenous Namibians often did not cooperate.

In 1978 the UN Security Council passed UN Resolution 435 which planned a transition toward independence for Namibia. Attempts to persuade South Africa to agree to the plan's implementation were not successful until 1988 when the transition to independence finally started under a diplomatic agreement between South Africa, Angola and Cuba, with the USSR and the USA as observers, under which South Africa agreed to withdraw and demobilise its forces in Namibia. As a result, Cuba agreed to pull back its troops in southern Angola sent to support the MPLA in its war for control of Angola with UNITA.

A combined UN civilian and peace-keeping force called UNTAG under Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari was deployed from April 1989 to March 1990 to monitor the peace process, elections and supervise military withdrawals. As UNTAG began to deploy peacekeepers, military observers, police, and political workers, hostilities were briefly renewed on the day the transition process was supposed to begin. After a new round of negotiations, a second date was set and the elections process began in earnest. After the return of SWAPO exiles , Namibia's first one-person one-vote elections for the constitutional assembly took place in November 1989. The official election slogan was "Free and Fair Elections". This was won by SWAPO although it did not gain the two-thirds majority it had hoped for; the South African-backed Democratic Turnhalle Alliance became the official opposition. The elections were peaceful and declared free and fair.

The Namibian Constitution adopted in February 1990 incorporated protection for human rights, compensation for state expropriations of private property, an independent judiciary and an executive presidency . The country officially became independent on 21 March 1990. Sam Nujoma was sworn in as the first President of Namibia watched by Nelson Mandela and representatives from 147 countries, including 20 heads of state. Walvis Bay was ceded to Namibia in 1994 upon the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

After independence

Since independence Namibia has successfully completed the transition from white minority apartheid rule to parliamentary democracy. Multiparty democracy was introduced and has been maintained, with local, regional and national elections held regularly. Several registered political parties are active and represented in the National Assembly, although the Swapo Party has won every election since independence. The transition from the 15-year rule of President Sam Nujoma to his successor Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2005 went smoothly.

The Namibian government has promoted a policy of national reconciliation and issued an amnesty for those who had fought on either side during the liberation war. The civil war in Angola had some impact on Namibians living in the north of the country. In 1998, Namibia Defence Force troops were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of a Southern African Development Community contingent. In August 1999, a secessionist attempt in the northeastern Zambezi Region was successfully quashed.

Geography

At 825,615 km , Namibia is the world's thirty-fourth largest country . It lies mostly between latitudes 17° and 29°S , and longitudes 11° and 26°E.

Being situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts, Namibia is the country with the least rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa.

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 Great Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.

The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coast to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east. The Central Plateau is home to the highest point in Namibia at Königstein elevation 2,606 metres .

The Namib Desert is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along Namibia's entire coastline. It varies between 100 to many hundreds of kilometres in width. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast.

The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over 2,000 metres . Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish. Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation.

The Bushveld is found in north eastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Caprivi Strip. The area receives a significantly greater amount of precipitation than the rest of the country, averaging around 400 mm per year. The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water.

The Kalahari Desert, an arid region shared with South Africa and Botswana, is one of Namibia's well-known geographical features. The Kalahari, while popularly known as a desert, has a variety of localised environments, including some verdant and technically non-desert areas. One of these, known as the Succulent Karoo, is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; Approximately 10 percent of the world's succulents are found in the Karoo. The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation.

Namibia's Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. Its sand dunes, created by the strong onshore winds, are the highest in the world. Because of the location of the shoreline – at the point where the Atlantic's cold water reaches Africa – there is often extremely dense fog. Near the coast there are areas where the dunes are vegetated with hammocks. Namibia has rich coastal and marine resources that remain largely unexplored.

Climate

Namibia extends from 17°S to 25°S: climatically the range of the sub-Tropical High Pressure Belt, arid is the overall climate description descending from the Sub-Humid through Semi-Arid between 300 and 500 mm and Arid from 150 to 300 mm to the Hyper-Arid coastal plain with less than a 100 mm mean. Temperature maxima are limited by the overall elevation of the entire region: only in the far south, Warmbad for instance, are mid-40 °C maxima recorded.

Typically the sub-Tropical High Pressure Belt, with frequent clear skies, provides more than 300 days of sunshine per year. It is situated at the southern edge of the tropics; the Tropic of Capricorn cuts the country about in half. The winter is generally dry, both rainy seasons occur in summer, the small rainy season between September and November, the big one between February and April. Humidity is low, and average rainfall varies from almost zero in the coastal desert to more than 600 mm in the Caprivi Strip. Rainfall is however highly variable, and droughts are common. The last bad rainy season with rainfall far below the annual average occurred in summer 2006/07.

Weather and climate in the coastal area are dominated by the cold, north-flowing Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean which accounts for very low precipitation , frequent dense fog, and overall lower temperatures than in the rest of the country. In Winter, occasionally a condition known as Bergwind or Oosweer occurs, a hot dry wind blowing from the inland to the coast. As the area behind the coast is a desert, these winds can develop into sand storms with sand deposits in the Atlantic Ocean visible on satellite images.

The Central Plateau and Kalahari areas have wide diurnal temperature ranges of up to 30 °C.

Efundja, the annual flooding of the northern parts of the country, often causes not only damage to infrastructure but loss of life. The rains that cause these floods originate in Angola, flow into Namibia's Cuvelai basin, and fill the Oshanas there. The worst floods so far occurred in March 2011 and displaced 21,000 people.

Water sources

Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa and depends largely on groundwater. With an average rainfall of about 350 mm per annum, the highest rainfall occurs in the Caprivi in the northeast and decreases in a westerly and southwesterly direction to as little as 50 mm and less per annum at the coast. The only perennial rivers are found on the national borders with South Africa, Angola, Zambia and the short border with Botswana in the Caprivi. In the interior of the country surface water is available only in the summer months when rivers are in flood after exceptional rainfalls. Otherwise, surface water is restricted to a few large storage dams retaining and damming up these seasonal floods and their runoff. Thus, where people don’t live near perennial rivers or make use of the storage dams, they are dependent on groundwater to provide for their water needs. From a geographic and water consumer viewpoint, it is therefore clear that a very large proportion of the Namibian population is dependent on groundwater for their livelihood. Despite considerable investment in drilling, borehole design and construction as well as pumping and maintenance, groundwater is usually the most economic way of supplying water. The advantage of using groundwater sources is that even isolated communities and those economic activities located far from good surface water sources such as mining, agriculture and tourism can be supplied from groundwater over nearly 80% of the country.

More than 100 000 boreholes have been drilled in Namibia over the past century. One third of these boreholes are drilled dry and better groundwater exploration methods are needed.

Communal Wildlife Conservancies

Namibia is one of few countries 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 utilisation 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 through its Living in a Finite Environment Project. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism with the financial support from organisations such as USAID, Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF, and Canadian Ambassador's Fund, together form a Community Based Natural Resource Management support structure. The main goal of this project is promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.

Politics 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.

The Constitution of Namibia guarantees the separation of powers:

  • Executive power is exercised by the President and Cabinet.
  • Legislature: Namibia has a bicameral Parliament with the National Assembly as lower house, and the National Council the upper house.
  • Judiciary: Namibia has a system of courts that interpret and apply the law in the name of the state.

While the constitution envisaged a multi-party system for Namibia's government, The SWAPO party has been dominant since independence in 1990.

Foreign relations

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 UN on 23 April 1990. On its independence it became the fiftieth member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Military

Namibia does not have any enemies in the region but consistently spends more as a percentage of GDP on its military than all of its neighbours, except Angola. Military expenditure rose from 2.7% of GDP in 2000 to 3.7% in 2009, and the arrival of 12 Chengdu J-7 Airguard jets in 2006 and 2008 made Namibia for a short time one of the top arms importers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The constitution of Namibia defined the role of the military as "defending the territory and national interests." Namibia formed the Namibian Defence Force , comprising former enemies in a 23-year bush war: the People's Liberation Army of Namibia and South West African Territorial Force . The British formulated the plan for integrating these forces and began training the NDF, which consists of a small headquarters and five battalions.

The United Nations Transitional Assistance Group 's Kenyan infantry battalion remained in Namibia for three months after independence to help train the NDF and to stabilise the north. According to the Namibian Defence Ministry, enlistments of both men and women will number no more than 7,500.

Administrative division

Namibia is divided into 14 regions and subdivided into 121 constituencies. The administrative division of Namibia is tabled by Delimitation Commissions and accepted or declined by the National Assembly. Since state foundation four Delimitation Commissions have delivered their work, the last one in 2013 under the chairmanship of Judge Alfred Siboleka.

Regional councillors are directly elected through secret ballots by the inhabitants of their constituencies.

Local authorities in Namibia can be in the form of municipalities , town councils or villages.

Economy

Namibia's economy is tied closely to South Africa's due to their shared history. The largest economic sectors are mining , agriculture , manufacturing , and tourism.

Namibia has a highly developed banking sector with modern infrastructure, such as online banking, cellphone banking, etc. The Bank of Namibia is the central bank of Namibia responsible for performing all other functions ordinarily performed by a central bank. There are four BoN authorised commercial banks in Namibia: Bank Windhoek, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank.

According to the Namibia Labour Force Survey Report 2012, conducted by the Namibia Statistics Agency, the country's unemployment rate is 27.4%. "Strict unemployment" stood at 20.2% in 2000, 21.9% in 2004 and spiraled to 29.4% in 2008. Under a broader definition unemployment rose to 36.7% in 2004. This estimate considers people in the informal economy as employed. Labour and Social Welfare Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko praised the 2008 study as "by far superior in scope and quality to any that has been available previously", but its methodology has also received criticism.

In 2004 a labour act was passed to protect people from job discrimination stemming from pregnancy and HIV/AIDS status. In early 2010 the Government tender board announced that "henceforth 100 per cent of all unskilled and semi-skilled labour must be sourced, without exception, from within Namibia".

In 2013, global business and financial news provider, Bloomberg, named Namibia the top emerging market economy in Africa and the 13th best in the world. Only four African countries made the Top 20 Emerging Markets list in the March 2013 issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine, and Namibia was rated ahead of Morocco , South Africa and Zambia . Worldwide, Namibia also fared better than Hungary, Brazil and Mexico. Bloomberg Markets magazine ranked the top 20 based on more than a dozen criteria. The data came from Bloomberg's own financial-market statistics, IMF forecasts and the World Bank. The countries were also rated on areas of particular interest to foreign investors: the ease of doing business, the perceived level of corruption and economic freedom. In order to attract foreign investment, the government has made improvement in reducing red tape resulted from excessive government regulations making the country one of the least bureaucratic places to do business in the region. However, facilitation payments are occasionally demanded by customs due to cumbersome and costly customs procedures. Namibia is also classified as an Upper Middle Income country by the World Bank, and ranks 87th out of 185 economies in terms of ease of doing business.

The cost of living in Namibia is relatively high because most of the goods including cereals need to be imported. Business monopoly in some sectors causes higher profit bookings and further raising of prices. Its capital city, Windhoek is currently ranked as the 150th most expensive place in the world for expatriates to live.

Taxation in Namibia includes personal income tax, which is applicable to total taxable income of an individual and all individuals are taxed at progressive marginal rates over a series of income brackets. The value added tax is applicable to most of the commodities and services.

Despite the remote nature of much of the country, Namibia has seaports, airports, highways, and railways . The country seeks to become a regional transportation hub; it has an important seaport and several landlocked neighbours. The Central Plateau already serves as a transportation corridor from the more densely populated north to South Africa, the source of four-fifths of Namibia's imports.

Agriculture

About half of the population depends on 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. Although arable land accounts for only 1% of Namibia, nearly half of the population is employed in agriculture.

About 4,000, mostly white, commercial farmers own almost half of Namibia's arable land. The governments of Germany and Britain will finance Namibia's land reform process, as Namibia plans to start expropriating land from white farmers to resettle landless black Namibians.

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.

An aquifer called "Ohangwena II" has been discovered, capable of supplying the 800,000 people in the North for 400 years. Experts estimate that Namibia has 7720 km of underground water.

Mining and electricity

Providing 25% of Namibia's revenue, mining is the single most important contributor to the economy. Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world's fourth 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. While Namibia is known predominantly for its gem diamond and uranium deposits, a number of other minerals are extracted industrially such as lead, tungsten, gold, tin, fluorspar, manganese, marble, copper and zinc. There are offshore gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean that are planned to be extracted in the future. According to "The Diamond Investigation", a book about the global diamond market, from 1978, De Beers, the largest diamond company, bought most of the Namibian diamonds, and would continue to do so, because "whatever government eventually comes to power they will need this revenue to survive".

Domestic supply voltage is 220V AC. Electricity is generated mainly by thermal and hydroelectric power plants. Non-conventional methods of electricity generation also play some role. Encouraged by the rich uranium deposits the Namibian government plans to erect its first nuclear power station by 2018, also uranium enrichment is envisaged to happen locally.

Tourism

Tourism is a major contributor to Namibia's GDP, creating tens of thousands of jobs directly or indirectly and servicing over a million tourists per annum. The country is among the prime destinations in Africa and is known for ecotourism which features Namibia's extensive wildlife.

There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. Sport Hunting is also a large, and growing component of the Namibian economy, accounting for 14% of total tourism in the year 2000, or $19.6 million US dollars, with Namibia boasting numerous species sought after by international sport hunters. In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding, skydiving 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 Lüderitz.

Demographics

Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia. The majority of the Namibian population is of Bantu-speaking origin – mostly of the Ovambo ethnicity, which forms about half of the population – residing mainly in the north of the country, although many are now resident in towns throughout Namibia. Other ethnic groups are the Herero and Himba people, who speak a similar language, and the Damara, who speak the same "click" language as the Nama.

In addition to the Bantu majority, there are large groups of Khoisan , who are descendants of the original inhabitants of Southern Africa. The country also contains some descendants of refugees from Angola. There are also two smaller groups of people with mixed racial origins, called "Coloureds" and "Basters", who together make up 8.0% . There is a large Chinese minority in Namibia.

Whites make up about 7.0% of the population.Although their percentage of population is decreasing due to emigration they still form the second-largest population of European ancestry, both in terms of percentage and actual numbers, in Sub-Saharan Africa after that of South Africa. Most Namibian whites and nearly all those of mixed race speak Afrikaans and share similar origins, culture, and religion as the white and coloured populations of South Africa. A smaller proportion of whites trace their family origins directly back to German colonial settlers and maintain German cultural and educational institutions. Nearly all Portuguese settlers came to the country from the former Portuguese colony of Angola. The 1960 census reported 526,004 persons in what was then South-West Africa, including 73,464 whites .

Namibia conducts a census every ten years. After independence the first Population and Housing Census was carried out in 1991, further rounds followed in 2001 and 2011. The data collection method is to count every person resident in Namibia on the census reference night, wherever they happen to be. This is called the de facto method. For enumeration purposes the country is demarcated into 4,042 enumeration areas. These areas do not overlap with constituency boundaries to get reliable data for election purposes as well.

The 2011 Population and Housing Census counted 2,113,077 inhabitants of Namibia. Between 2001 and 2011 the annual population growth was 1.4%, down from 2.6% in the previous ten–year period.

Religion

The Christian community makes up 80%–90% of the population of Namibia, with at least 50% of these Lutheran. 10%–20% of the population hold indigenous beliefs.

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, Dutch Reformed, Rhenish Christians, and Mormons .

Language

Since 1991 English is the only official language, though only about 3% of the population speaks it as a home language. Its implementation is focused on the civil service, education and the broadcasting system.

Up to 1990, German and Afrikaans were also official languages. Long before Namibia's independence from South Africa, SWAPO was of the opinion that the country should become officially monolingual, choosing this approach in contrast to that of its neighbour South Africa , which was seen by them as "a deliberate policy of ethnolinguistic fragmentation." Consequently, SWAPO instituted English as the sole official language of Namibia. Some other languages have received semi-official recognition by being allowed as medium of instruction in primary schools. It is expected of private schools to follow the same policy as state schools, and "English language" is a compulsory subject.

Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo as their first language, whereas the most widely understood and spoken language is Afrikaans. Among the younger generation, English is rapidly gaining hold. Both Afrikaans and English are used primarily as a second language reserved for public communication, but small first-language groups exist throughout the country.

According to the 2011 census, the most common languages are Oshiwambo , Nama/Damara , Afrikaans , Kavango , Otjiherero .

While the official language is English, most of the white population speaks either German or Afrikaans. Even today, 99 years after the end of the German colonial era, the German language plays a leading role as a commercial language. Afrikaans is spoken by 60% of the white community, German is spoken by 32%, English is spoken by 7% and Portuguese by 1%. Geographical proximity to Portuguese-speaking Angola explains the relatively high number of Portuguese speakers; in 2011 these were estimated to be 100,000, or 4–5% of the total population.

Sport

The most popular sport in Namibia is association football. The Namibia national football team qualified for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations but has yet to qualify for any World Cups.

The most successful national team is the Namibian rugby team, having competed in four separate World Cups. Namibia were participants in the 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups. Cricket is also popular, with the national side having played in the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Inline hockey was first played in 1995 and has also become more and more popular in the last years. The Women's inline hockey National Team participated in the 2008 FIRS World Championships. Namibia is the home for one of the toughest footraces in the world, the Namibian ultra marathon. The most famous athlete from Namibia is certainly Frankie Fredericks, sprinter . He won four Olympic silver medals and also has medals from several World Athletics Championships. He is also known for humanitarian activities in Namibia and further.

The Swakopmund Skydiving Club in Swakopmund was founded in 1974, and operates still today from Swakopmund Airport.

Media

Although Namibia's population is fairly small, the country has a diverse choice of media; two TV stations, 19 radio stations , 5 daily newspapers, several weeklies and special publications compete for the attention of the audience. Additionally, a mentionable amount of foreign media, especially South African, is available. Online media are mostly based on print publication contents. Namibia has a state-owned Press Agency, called NAMPA.

The first newspaper in Namibia was the German-language Windhoeker Anzeiger, founded 1898. Radio was introduced in 1969, TV in 1981. During German rule, the newspapers mainly reflected the living reality and the view of the white German-speaking minority. The black majority was ignored or depicted as a threat. During South African rule, the white bias continued, with mentionable influence of the Pretoria government on the "South West African" media system. Independent newspapers were seen as a menace to the existing order, critical journalists threatened.

The daily newspapers include the private publications The Namibian , Die Republikein , Allgemeine Zeitung and Namibian Sun as well as the state-owned New Era . Except for the largest newspaper, The Namibian, which is owned by a trust, the other mentioned private newspapers are part of the Democratic Media Holdings.

Other mentionable newspapers are the tabloid Informanté owned by TrustCo, the weekly Windhoek Observer, the weekly Namibia Economist, as well as the regional Namib Times. Current affairs magazines include Insight Namibia, Vision2030 Focus magazine, Prime FOCUS .Sister Namibia Magazine stands out as the longest running NGO magazine in Namibia, while Namibia Sport is the only national sport magazine. Furthermore, the print market is complemented with party publications, student newspapers and PR publications.

The broadcasting sector is dominated by the state-run Namibian Broadcasting Corporation . The public broadcaster offers a TV station as well as a "National Radio" in English and nine language services in locally spoken languages. The nine private radio stations in the country are mainly English-language channels, except for Radio Omulunga and Kosmos 94.1 . Privately held One Africa TV has competed with NBC since the 2000s.

Compared to neighbouring countries, Namibia has a large degree of media freedom. Over the past years, the country usually ranked in the upper quarter of the Press Freedom Index of Reporters without Borders, reaching position 21 in 2010, being on par with Canada and the best-positioned African country. The African Media Barometer shows similarly positive results. However, as in other countries, there is still mentionable influence of representatives of state and economy n media in Namibia. In 2009, Namibia dropped to position 36 on the Press Freedom Index. In 2013, it was 19th.

Media and journalists in Namibia are represented by the Namibian chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Editors' Forum of Namibia. An independent media ombudsman was appointed in 2009 to prevent a state-controlled media council.

Education

Namibia has compulsory free education for 10 years between the ages of 6 and 16. Grades 1–7 are primary level, grades 8–12 secondary. In 1998, there were 400,325 Namibian students in primary school and 115,237 students in secondary schools. The pupil-teacher ratio in 1999 was estimated at 32:1, with about 8% of the GDP being spent on education. Curriculum development, educational research, and professional development of teachers is centrally organised by the National Institute for Educational Development in Okahandja.

Most schools in Namibia are state-run, but a few private schools are also part of the country's education system. There are four teacher training universities, three colleges of agriculture, a police training college, a Polytechnic at university level, and a National University.

Health

Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 52.2 years in 2012 – among the lowest in the world. The AIDS epidemic is a large problem in Namibia. Though its rate of infection is substantially lower than that of its eastern neighbour, Botswana, approximately 13.1% of the adult population is infected with HIV. In 2001, there were an estimated 210,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and the estimated death toll in 2003 was 16,000. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, the epidemic in Namibia "appears to be leveling off." As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has reduced the working-aged population, the number of orphans has increased. It falls to the government to provide education, food, shelter and clothing for these orphans.

The malaria problem seems to be compounded by the AIDS epidemic. Research has shown that in Namibia the risk of contracting malaria is 14.5% greater if a person is also infected with HIV. The risk of death from malaria is also raised by approximately 50% with a concurrent HIV infection. Given infection rates this large, as well as a looming malaria problem, it may be very difficult for the government to deal with both the medical and economic impacts of this epidemic. The country had only 598 physicians in 2002.

References

Footnotes

Bibliography

  • Vedder, Heinrich . Das alte Südwestafrika. Südwestafrikas Geschichte bis zum Tode Mahareros 1890 . Windhoek: Namibia Scientific Society. ISBN 0-949995-33-9. 

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Typical length of visit: 7 days

Top 10 things to do in Namibia

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