Country Profile

Country Profile Namibia

Country Profile of Namibia

President:  Hifikepunya Pohamba

Prime minister:  Hage Geingob

Capital:  Windhoek

Land area:  825,418 square kilometres

Population:  2,182,852 million; growth-rate 0.817%; birth-rate 21.11/1000; life expectancy 52.17

Languages:  English 7%(official), Afrikaans 60%, German 32% and Herero, Oshivambo and Nama 1% (indigenous)

Ethnicity:  Black 87.5%, white 6%, mixed 6.5%. Note: about 50% of the population belong to the Ovambo 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%

Literacy rate:  88%

Economic summary:  GDP/PPP: $16.84 billion; Real growth rate: 4%. Inflation: 5.8%. Unemployment: 51.2%.

Agriculture: millet, sorghum, peanuts, grapes; livestock; fish.

Namibia is bordered on the north by Angola and Zambia, on the east by Botswana, and on the east and south by South Africa. It is for the most part a portion of the high plateau of southern Africa, with a general elevation of from 3,000 to 4,000 ft.


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 or the Deutsch-Südwestafrika, then as South-West Africa, reflecting the colonial occupation by the Germans and the South Africans (technically on behalf of the British crown reflecting South Africa’s dominion status within the British Empire).

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, and Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. It 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.

In 1966, uprisings and demands by African leaders led the United Nations to assume direct responsibility over the territory. It recognized the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia, however, remained under South African administration during this time. Following internal violence, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985.

South Africa handed over limited powers to a new multiracial administration in 1985 (the previous government had enforced South Africa's apartheid laws). Installation of this government ended South Africa's direct rule, but it retained an effective veto over the new government's decisions. Finally, in 1988 a South Africa agreed to a plan for independence. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma was elected president, and on March 21, 1990, Namibia achieved nationhood.

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.

Sam Nujoma was re-elected in 1994 and again in 1999, after the constitution was amended to allow him to seek a third term. He announced in Nov. 2001 that he would not seek re-election when his term expired in 2004. In Nov. 2004, Hifikepunye Pohamba of SWAPO was elected president with 76% of the vote. He took office on March 21, 2005, and was easily re-elected in 2009, taking 75% of the vote.

The HIV/Aids epidemic is a large problem in Namibia. Though its rate of infection is substantially lower than that of its eastern neighbour, Botswana, approximately 15% of the adult population is infected with HIV. In 2002,there were an estimated death 210 000 people living with HIV, and the estimated death toll in 2003 was 16 000. The HIV/Aids epidemic is considered as the killer disease and as it has reduced the number of working class people, the number of orphans has increased. It falls to the Namibian government to provide education, food, shelter and clothing for these orphans.

Namibia has maintained a track record of consistent economic growth, moderate inflation, limited public debt, and export earnings. Namibia’s economy is closely linked to South Africa’s economy through trade, investment, and common monetary policies. The Namibian dollar is pegged to the South African rand, making many economic trends including inflation closely follow those in South Africa.

Agriculture is the largest form of employment, accounting for 27% of jobs, and the national government is the largest employer, employing 12% of all workers. The informal sector remains large in Namibia. The major source of income for more than 40% of households is subsistence agriculture, a social grant, or other source outside of formal sector employment.

In Namibia one can climb the highest sand dunes in the world. Descend to the floor of the deepest canyon in Africa. Immerse themselves in the past at one of the Africa's richest rock art sites, and watch wildlife shimmer against one of the most spectacular pans on earth. Explore the oldest, driest desert in the world and take time to listen to the silence and to the soul.

Namibia is home to vibrant cities where people are excited about the future, while remaining deeply connected to their rich, cultural past. A stable, democratic government, infrastructure that allows guests to move confidently off the beaten path and endless horizons that beckon you to explore define this country and its people. 

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