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Country Overview – Namibia

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Namibia in short


One of the youngest democracies in the world that included protection of environment in its constitution, country of desolate Namib Desert, famous Etosha National park with its abundant wildlife, enormous and magnificent Fish River Canyon, Swakopmund - small Bavarian-style German town on the edge of Namib and cold Atlantic ocean that remains almost unchanged since the beginning of the century, peaceful land of old traditions, ancient tribes and modern infrastructure.

Namibia has always been a country of superlatives. Dragon's Breath is the largest subterranean lake in the world, Hoba meteorite is the biggest ever found, Gibeon meteorite shower is the largest ever discovered, Namib Desert is the oldest desert and it is also the only desert in the world that harbours elephant, lion, giraffe and rhino. Red sand dunes at Sossusvlei are regarded as being the highest in the world.

The Namib Desert is also home to one of the oldest living fossil plants, the Welwitschia mirabilis. Namibia has the largest free-roaming cheetah population in the world an estimated 2 500. And there is more. Rossing is the largest open - cast uranium mine, the coast is the largest occurrence of rock salt and Uis is the largest known tin reserve.

 

Fast Facts


Natural resources:
Diamonds, uranium, copper, gold, lithium, tin, lead, zinc, gas, cadmium, salt, coal, iron, fish.


People:
 About 50% of the population belong to the Owambo 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, other Christian denominations 30%), native religions 10% to 20%


Political history:
In 1884 the country was proclaimed a German protectorate and for the next almost 30 years Namibia, that time German South West Africa, remained  a German colony. Capitulation of Germany in the beginning of 1915 resulted in administration of South Africa under a 1920 League of Nations mandate. After implementation of United Nations Resolution 435 in 1989 and free and fair elections Swapo (South West African People's Organization) came to power under leadership of Dr. Sam Nujoma who became first president of an independent Namibia.


Population:
  The estimate population of the country is currently 1.7 million people with an annual growth rate approximately three percent and population density of less than 2 people per square kilometre.

Languages:
The official language of the country is English, although German and Afrikaans are widely spoken. Indigenous languages include Bantu languages such as Owambo, Kavango, Herero, Caprivi and Tswana, Khoisan languages spoken by the Nama-Damara and San (Bushmen) people.


Government:
The Republic of Namibia is a multiparty democracy with fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the country's constitution. The country is lead by the President Mr. Sam Nujoma.

Education:
The literacy rate in the country is estimated at 40 percent. There are approximately 1 450 schools and one tertiary institution, the University of Namibia. In addition there are several teacher's and agricultural colleges, computer and information technology training centres, training centres for employers and employees in tourism trade.

Major towns:
  The capital of Namibia is Windhoek with a population of approximately 200 000 inhabitants. Other major centres are Rehoboth - the centre of Rehoboth Basters, Okahandja - capital of Herero tribe, Gobabis and Otjiwarongo regarded as a centres of cattle industry, Tsumeb - former mining town, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay at the coast, Grootfontein, Otavi and Outjo in the north, Mariental, Maltahohe and Karasburg in the south and Gochas, Stampriet and Aranos in the east.


Airports:
There are two international airports in Namibia, Hosea Kutako International airport situated 42 km from Windhoek and Walvis Bay airport. All Namibia's major town have airport or registered landing strips.

Roads:
The country has a well-maintained network of surfaced and gravel roads covering more than 40 000 km in total. Trans-Caprivi and Trans-Kalahari highways give the country access to Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Railways:
The railway network consists of more than 2400 km of railway lines connecting major towns in the country. The Desert Express is the 5-star luxury train service between Windhoek and Swakopmund. Once a year the Rovos Rail from South Africa offers 2 600 km trip from Johannesburg to Swakopmund.

Banking:
The banks in Namibia connected to major international communication networks and offer fast and efficient transfers of funds to and from any destination in the world. Major credit cards widely accepted. Foreign currency exchange services offered in banks in all major towns in the country.

Currency:
The national currency of Namibia is Namibian dollar (N$), divided into 100 cents with a current rate of approximately 6.3 N$ for 1 US$. South African Rand is also legal tender in the country and linked to Namibian dollar on 1:1 basis.
Credit card agencies in Windhoek

VISA:
First National Bank of Namibia, Tel: 299 2213, fax: 226 676.
Master Card, Diners Club: Standard Bank of Namibia, Tel: 294 2143(4/5/6), fax: 294 2199.
American Express: Tel: 249 037, fax: 224 417.


Time zone:
  Summer time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (first Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April). Winter time is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (first Sunday in April to first Sunday in September).
Health precautions:  The northern, northern-east and far northern-east areas of Namibia are prone to malaria and visitors are advised to take prophylaxis.

What to buy: Semi-precious stones and gems, diamonds, wood carvings and Herero dolls.

 

Geography



Namibia has an area of 824 268 square km. Namibia is situated in Southern Africa and borders on South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Zimbabwe.

Regions
The country is divided into 13 constitutional regions: Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto (formerly Owambo), Okavango, Caprivi, Kunene (formerly Kaokoland and a part of Damaraland), Karas, Erongo, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Khomas and Hardap.

Topography
Namibia has four distinct topographical regions: the Namib, a long and narrow coastal desert; central plateau running from north to south with an altitude up to 2000 m above sea level; the eastern lowlands including Kalahari Desert; the high rainfall areas of Okavango and Caprivi.

Geographic coordinates
22 00 S, 17 00 E

Land boundaries
Total: 3 824 km, border boundaries: Angola: 1 376 km, Botswana: 1 360 km, South Africa: 855 km, Zambia: 233 km.

Coastline

1 572 km

Mountains
The highest mountain in Namibia is the Brandberg with a height of 2 579 m above sea level with Moltkeblick (Auas range) at 2 480 m being the second highest. Other notable mountains of Namibia are: Bismarckfelsen (2 419 m), Gamsberg - Namibia's Table mountain (2 347m), Spitzkoppe (1 730 m).

Rivers

Namibia has only five perennial (permanent) rivers are situated on the country's borders: Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi, and Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe rivers in the north and north-east and Orange river in the south.

 

Climate



In general Namibia has a dry climate with the exception of the high rainfall area in the far north east. The country is regarded as a semi-desert country where droughts are frequently occurring. The summer day temperature can reach up to 42 degrees C, while night winter temperature can reach as low as -5 degrees C. Rain in Namibia usually falls in the summer with an average rainfall figures varying from less than 50 mm along the coast to up to 700 mm in the far north-east.

 

Fauna & Flora



Fauna
The large mammal group represented by elephant, giraffe, rhino, and buffalo with endangered species  such as black rhino, cheetah, wild dog, lion, kudu, waterbuck and oribi. Out of 887 bird species recorded in Southern Africa 620 have been found in Namibia.

Flora
Namibia has 14 vegetation zones including desert, semi-desert, forest savannahs woodlands, Mopani and thorn bush woodlands, dwarf shrub, camel thorn, mixed trees and shrub savannahs. The country has more than 120 tree species and more than 200 endemic plant species.

 

Public Holidays



Public holidays
01 January    New Year's Day
21 March    Independence Day
21 April        Good Friday
24 April        Easter Monday
01 May        Worker's Day
04 May        Cassinga Day
25 May        Africa Day
1 June        Ascension Day
26 August    Heroes Day
10 December    Human Rights Day
11 December    Public Holiday
25 December    Christmas Day
26 December    Family Day

Supermarkets and most food shops are open on most public holidays (except Christmas and Easter), but most restaurants and other services to be closed.
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