Republic of Namibia
Republic of Namibia is situated on the southwestern coast of Africa and borders Angola and Zambia in the north, the Republic of South Africa in the south and Botswana in the east. The territory of the country is 825,400 sq. km.
Namibia is a multi-cultural country with 16 different languages and dialects. Includes 14 regions – Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango East, Kavango West, Karas, Hardap, Khomas, Kunene, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Zambezi and Erongo. Official language – English.
System of government – multi-party democracy.
The literacy rate is about 83%, one of the highest in Africa.
Freedom of religion was adopted through Namibia’s Bill of Fundamental Rights (about 90% of the population is Christian).
Namibian dollar (N$ or NAD) and South African Rand (ZAR) are the only legal tender in Namibia and can be used freely to purchase goods and services. 1US$ is equivalent 14,2N$ (August 2018). Traveler’s cheques, foreign currency and most international credit cards are accepted.
Local time – GMT + 2 hours, one time zone, no change for winter time.
Home power supply – 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. Outlets – round three-pin type.
Population – 2.46 million (2017 estimates), 300,000 inhabitants in Windhoek.
Population growth rate – 2.6% per year (2017).
Climate – average summer (December-February) temperatures vary from 20-34°C (day) to 16-18°C (night) and in winter (June-August) from 18-22°C during the day and 0-4°C at night.
Flora: 14 vegetation zones, 120 species of trees, 200 endemic plant species, 100 plus species of lichen. Living fossil plant: Welwitschia Mirabilis.
Fauna: 20 antelope species, 240 mammal species (14 endemic), 250 reptile species, 50 frog species, 676 bird species. Big game – elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, giraffe. Endemic birds include Herero Chat, Rockrunner, Damara Tern, Monteiro’s Hornbill.
Mountains – Brandberg (with the height of 2,573 m), Spitzkoppe, Molteblick, Gamsberg.
Rivers – Orange, Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi, Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe.
Coastline – 1570 km.
Natural Reserves – 18% of the surface area.
Roads – 5,450 km of tarred roads and 37,000 km of gravel roads.
Railroads – 2382 km narrow gauge.
Harbors – Walvis Bay and Luderitz.
Airports – Hosea Kutako International Airport, Eros Airport (both – in Windhoek) and 46 airstrips in different parts of the country.
Mobile Communication – 6.2 telephone landlines per 100 inhabitants. Direct dialing facilities to 221 countries. GSM, 3G, 4G (LTE), roaming agreements with 117 countries (255 networks). Postal service is affiliated to the Universal Postal Union.
Namibia’s history is engraved into carved rock paintings found in the South at Twyfelfontein dated to some 2,000 to 2,500 years ago. A long lineage of various groups of people have been making this rugged land home for thousands of years, with traditional value systems and governance. In recent history, the period of colonization by Germany from the end of the XIX century was marked by resistance and rebellion, and genocide, deeply impacting on the country and its people. Germany’s defeat by the South African army during the First World War effectively traded one colonial experience for another, when the League of Nations gave South Africa a mandate over Namibia. The resistance continued.
The Herero paramount chief Hosea Kutako was the first to petition the United Nations on 26 August 1946, seeking independence for Namibia, which came after another 44 years, in 1990. The United Nations withdrew South Africa’s mandate over Namibia in 1966 but South Africa, being under apartheid at that time, refused to accept, and the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) launched the war for liberation. The struggle for independence intensified and continued at the UN and on the battlegrounds until South Africa in 1988 agreed to end its administration following a military retreat from Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola. After democratic elections were held in 1989 under the UN Resolution 435, Namibia became an independent state on 21 March 1990. To date, Namibia boasts a proud record of uninterrupted peace and stability.
The Namibian climate varies from arid and semi-arid to subtropical with the generally temperate desert coast offering sometimes fog-ridden days with temperatures between 15°C and 20°C. The central, southern and coastal areas constitute some of the most arid landscapes south of the Sahara. The hottest months are January and February with average day temperatures varying from 26°C to 30°C.
During the winter months that stretch from May to September minimum temperatures can fluctuate between -2°C and 10°C at night to recover to 20°C after 11 am. Frost occurs over large areas of the country during winter, but in general, winter days are clear, cloudless and sunny. Overall Namibia is a summer rainfall area, with limited showers occurring from October and building up to peak in January or February.
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 accounts for some of the low precipitation.
Central plateau. This 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 Konigstein with an elevation of 2,606 meters (8,411 feet). Within the wide, flat Central Plateau is the majority of Namibia's population and economic activity.
Windhoek, the nation's capital, is located here, as well as most of the arable land. Although arable land accounts for only 1% of Namibia, nearly half of the population is employed in agriculture. The abiotic conditions here are similar to those found along the Escarpment, described below; however the topographic complexity is reduced. Summer temperatures in the area can reach 40°C during the summer, and in the winter, frosts are common.
The Namib Desert (The Namib)is a coastal desert in southern Africa referred to as one of the oldest deserts, and has been in existence for some 43 million years. The Namib is an immense expense of relentlessly moving from the gravel plains and dunes of all shapes that stretch along the entire coastline. The entire western section of Namibia is comprised of the Namib, which spreads beyond the borders of Namibia and flows into southern Angola and Northern Cape Province of South Africa, with imperial rivers flowing unexpectedly across an ancient landscape, its dunes, plains, and rivers and foggy coast.
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 sands that make up the sand sea are a consequence of erosional processes that take place within the Orange River valley and areas further to the south. As sand-laden waters drop their suspended loads into the Atlantic, onshore currents deposit them along the shore.
The prevailing southwest winds then pick up and redeposit the sand in the form of massive dimes in the widespread sand sea. In areas where the supply of sand is reduced because of the inability of the sand to cross-riverbeds, the winds also scour the land to form large gravel plains. In many areas within the Namib Desert, there is little vegetation with the exception of lichens found in the gravel plains, and in dry riverbeds where plants can access subterranean water.
Hidden within the Namib Desert is the Dead Sea. It is not far from the coastal road between Henties Bay and Cape Cross seal colony, some 17 km on a gravel track towards the Brandberg. This is an old mining hole with a very high concentration of minerals and salt. This is one of the special Namibian sites to get excited about and is worth a visit. The salinity of the lake is high and enables swimmers to float freely in the water.
The Great Escarpmentrises swiftly to over 2,000 meters. Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase as you move 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 nonetheless significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation.
The water, along with rapidly changing topography, is responsible for the creation of microhabitats, which offer a wide range of organisms, many of them endemic. Vegetation along the Escarpment varies in both form and density, with community structure ranging from dense woodlands to more shrubby areas with scattered trees. A number of Acacia species are found here, as well as grasses and other shrubby vegetation.
The Bushveld. This is found in northeastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi Strip) which is the vestige of a narrow corridor demarcated for the German Empire to access the Zambezi River. The area receives a significantly higher amount of precipitation than the rest of the county, averaging around 400 mm per year. Temperatures are cooler and more moderate, with approximate seasonal variations of between 10°C and 30°C.
The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water. Located adjacent to the Bushveld in central Namibia is one of nature's most spectacular features: the Etosha Pan. For most of the year, it is a dry, saline wasteland, but during the wet season, it forms a shallow lake covering more than 6000 sq. km. The area is ecologically important and vital to the huge numbers of birds and animals from the surrounding Savannah that gathers in the region as summer drought forces them to the scattered waterholes that ring the pan.
The Kalahari Desert. This is perhaps Namibia’s best known geographical feature. Shared with South Africa and Botswana, it has a variety of localized environments ranging from hyper-arid sandy desert to areas that seem to defy the common definition of desert. One of these areas, known as the Succulent Karoo, is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; fully one-third of the world’s succulents are found in the Karoo.
Mountains. Another feature of many parts of Namibia is isolated mountains that create microclimates and habitat for organisms not adapted to life in the surrounding desert matrix. Brandberg, also called Mount Brand or granite massif, is the highest mountain in Namibia, and is located in the central Namib Desert. Its highest peak (and the country’s highest point), called Konigstein, reaches an elevation of more than 8,442 feet (2,573 meters).
Brandberg is known for its concentration of prehistoric rock art, including carvings and paintings. The area is also known for its rich biodiversity and numerous endemic species. Large tin deposits have been found at nearby Uis. Other mountains are the Auas Mountain with its 2,479 m Von Moltkeblick peak, the Gamsberg (2,347 m), the Erongo Mountain (2 319 m), the Karas Mountain (2,202 m), the Eros Mountain (1,900 m) and Brukkaros (1,603 m), a well-known sight between the southern towns of Keetmanshoop and Mariental.
Rivers. Perennial rivers are found only on the country's borders, and these are the Orange River on the southern border and the Kunene, Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi Rivers on the northern border. In the south, the Fish River Canyon is one of the wonders of Africa – 161 km long and 27 km wide ravine, with a maximum depth of 550 m, is surrounded by high, forbidding cliffs and is gashed into the plateau with startling abruptness.
National parks. Namibia has 12 national parks: Bwabwata, Dorob, Etosha, Khaudum, Mamili, Mangeti, Mudumu, Namib-Naukluft, Skeleton Coast, Sperrgebiet, Waterberg, Spitzekoppe. Etosha is the largest national park in Namibia and one of the largest savannah conservation areas in Africa, renowned for spectacular wildlife including elephant, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, lions, leopards, cheetahs, large herds of springbok, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, and a multitude of other fascinating species, big and small, interacting in their natural environment.
Mining and energy. Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa, the world's fifth largest producer of uranium, and the producer of large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. Namibia has two uranium mines that are capable of providing 10% of the world mining output. The mining sector employs only about 3% of the population while about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood.
Fisheries. The country’s aquatic marine living resources are to be found in one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world (one of the five Eastern boundary upwelling systems). This productivity results from the Benguela Current Upwelling System, which support's abundant populations of demersal and pelagic species. Aquaculture consists of two subsectors – freshwater/inland and mariculture.
Namibian marine capture fisheries are based on seven main commercially exploited species, both in terms of volume and value. The fisheries sector plays a significant role in terms of production, employment, foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.
Fisheries sustain about 16,800 jobs directly and provided on average about 10 billion N$ in forex earnings during the 2012-2016 period annually, which makes the sector the second most important forex earner for Namibia after mining. The value addition in the sector increased during the past five years. It is projected that value addition will increase by 70% considering targets set out in the 5-th National Development Plan (NDP5).
Tourism. At Independence in 1990, the new Government of the Republic of Namibia recognized the importance of the environment, by including the protection of natural resources in the Constitution. Namibia has one of the few constitutions in the world with specific provisions aimed at safeguarding the environment. Furthermore, Namibia is one of the few countries that have linked issues of environmental protection to tourism development.
Tourism is a major industry, contributing 7.2 billion N$ to the country's Gross Domestic Product and creating thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. Annually, over one million travelers visit Namibia, with roughly one in three coming from South Africa, Germany and the United Kingdom, Italy and France. The country is among the prime destinations in Africa and is known for ecotourism, which features Namibia's extensive wildlife. There are numerous lodges and reserves that accommodate eco-tourists. Sport hunting is also a large and growing component of the Namibian economy.
Namibia has achieved significant conservation successes and now has the largest population of black rhinoceros in Africa, the only significant population of this species outside protected areas, as well as expanding lion and giraffe populations outside protected areas, and an elephant population that has increased from 7,000 to 23,000 in around 20 years. In addition, through establishment of community conservancies under the auspices of the Community Based Natural Resource Programme benefits accrue to rural communities through infrastructure development, employment creation and income. Furthermore, through conservation of biodiversity, tourists from across the globe are attracted to Namibia's beautiful landscapes, contributing significantly to economic growth of the country.
Manufacturing and infrastructure. Namibian manufacturing is inhibited by a small domestic market, dependence on imported goods, a limited supply of local capital, widely dispersed population, a small skilled labour force with high relative wage rates, and subsidized competition from South Africa.
Namibia has eight airports run by the Namibia Airport Company (NAC) Ltd. The NAC was established through the Namibian Airports Company Act 25 of 1998. The NAC provides airport infrastructures and amenities, and facilitates airport services for domestic and international airlines, passengers and clients.
The country has two harbours handling merchandise imports and exports, and servicing the fishing industry. The only deep-sea harbour is Walvis Bay in the Erongo Region, which is a well-developed, deep-water port and Namibia's fishing infrastructure is most heavily concentrated there. The other harbour is Luderitz in the Karas Region. Port of Walvis Bay is situated at the west coast of Africa and provides an easier and much faster transit route between Southern Africa, Europe and the Americas. The Port of Luderitz is located to the southern coast of Namibia and caters for southern Namibia as well as providing access to markets in the Northern Cape of South Africa.
The railway network comprises 2,382 km of narrow gauge track with the main line running from the border with South Africa via Keetmanshoop to Windhoek, Okahandja, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
Agriculture. 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 more rural cashless 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.
Higher education. The Government of the Republic of Namibia, through the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation (MHETI) remained focused on ensuring that challenges are addressed in a versatile and creative manner. This will ensure that Namibians have access to education and training of the highest quality.
In 2016 an extensive policy review was done by the UNESCO on Higher Education, Training and Innovation with the aim of developing policies and programmes of the three pillars by assessing their current status, identifying strategic priorities and proposing alternative interventions responding to those priorities. The review of the plans places greater emphasis on the development and implementation of improved steering mechanisms, as well as teaching and learning support via all delivery programmes.
Namibia recognizes the establishment of a robust Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) skills base as a key element in its fight against poverty. Solid progress has been recorded in the ongoing transformation of the TVET sector. Driving this transformation in increasing access to high-quality and relevant skills development and training opportunities is the Namibia Training Authority (NTA), an enterprise under the MHETI.
Moreover, in order to obtain information on the Research, Development and Innovation landscape in Namibia in terms of input and output data, the Ministry, through the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), embarked on the first ever experimental Research and Development (R&D) and Innovation Surveys in 2016 to establish Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) indicators. This was necessary to understand where the country is in terms of STI to enable it to formulate appropriate targets and initiatives.
Freedom of expression, including freedom of the media and a mixed economy, providing for public, private and joint venture ownership is guaranteed in the Namibian Constitution. The National News Agency of Namibia (NAMPA) was established as a national news agency responsible for the distribution of local, regional and international news.
With its relatively small population, Namibia boasts 11 regular newspapers, of which five publish daily (New Era, The Namibian, Allgemeine Zeitung, Namibian Sun, Die Republikein),and six are weeklies (Namibia Economist, Informants, Namibia Today, Windhoek Observer and The Southern Times).
The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) offers nine radio language services (National Radio, Afrikaans Service, Damara/Nama Service, German Service, Oshiwambo Service, Otjiherero Service, Rukavango Service, Tirelo Ya Setswana Service and San Service), and television channels.