Namibia country profile

  • 6 January 2016
  • From the section Africa
Map of Namibia

Namibia, a large and sparsely populated country on Africa's south-west coast, has enjoyed stability since gaining independence in 1990 after a long struggle against rule by South Africa.

Germany took control of the area which it called South West Africa in the late 1800s.

The discovery of diamonds in 1908 prompted an influx of Europeans.

South Africa seized it during the First World War and administered it under a League of Nations mandate.

Namibians achieved independence in 1990 after a bush war of almost 25 years. Inter-racial reconciliation encouraged the country's white people to remain and they still play a major role in farming and other economic sectors.


The Republic of Namibia

Capital: Windhoek

  • Population 2.4 million

  • Area 824,292 sq km (318,261 sq miles)

  • Major languages English (official), Afrikaans, German, Oshivambo, Herero, Nama

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 62 years (men), 63 years (women)

  • Currency Namibian dollar

Getty Images


Image copyright Getty Images

Hage Geingob was voted in as president in the November 2014 elections while serving as prime minister.

He succeeded Hifikepunye Pohamba, who stepped down at the end of the two terms allowed by the constitution.

Dr Geingob, who was born in 1941, chaired the constituent assembly which drafted the constitution which came into effect with Namibian independence from South Africa in 1990.

He was independent Namibia's first prime minister.

The president, who shares executive power with the cabinet, is limited to two five-year terms.


Image caption Namibia has spectacular natural attractions, such as the dunes at Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft National Park

Namibia is one of the more media-friendly countries in Africa.

Broadcasters and the private press give coverage to the opposition, including views critical of the government.


Some key dates in Namibia's history:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The German occupation forces almost wiped out the entire Herero population

1886-90 - Present international boundaries established by German treaties with Portugal and Britain. Germany annexes the territory as South West Africa.

1892-1905 - Suppression of uprisings by Herero and Namas. Possibly 60,000, or 80% of the Herero population, are killed, leaving some 15,000 starving refugees.

1915 - South Africa takes over territory during First World War.

1920 - League of Nations grants South Africa mandate to govern South West Africa (SWA).

1946 - South Africa refuses to place SWA under UN trusteeship.

1961 - UN General Assembly demands South Africa terminate the mandate and sets SWA's independence as an objective.

1966 - South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) launches armed struggle against South African occupation.

1990 - Namibia becomes independent, with Sam Nujoma as first president.

2004 - Germany offers formal apology for colonial-era killings of tens of thousands of ethnic Hereros.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sam Nujoma symbolised Namibia's independence struggle

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