Large, sparsely populated and arid, comprising mostly desert, Namibia spans 824,292 square kilometres of south western Africa, straddling the Tropic of Capricorn, which explains the intense heat which can be experienced here at times.
A small population with vast diversity
Despite its size, Namibia is one of the world’s least densely populated places, with only about 2.2 million permanent residents – that’s less than 3 people per square kilometre, with most of the population living in urban areas. This leaves large expanses of empty spaces just begging exploration, and amounts to some of the clearest, most star spangled night skies on earth.
Although sparsely populated, Namibia is home to a wide diversity of cultures, and 13 ethnic groups in total, namely:
- San (Bushmen)
- Rehoboth Basters
- Owambo (Ovambo)
Of these, the Owambo and Kavango people combined make up over 60 percent of Namibia’s population. The white people of Namibia still have a strong German influence hailing from the days when Namibia was a colony of Germany.
South Africa took control of Namibia during World War I, with Namibia gaining its long-awaited independence from its southern neighbour in 1990. Today Namibia is a multiracial, multiparty democracy, with an elected president. The Namibian constitution is famous for its inclusion of conservation as a national priority.
Trade is made in many languages
The Namibian economy is based on diamond, copper, gold, lead and zinc mining, which are the major export products of Namibia. The food sector comprises fishing, and farming of millet, sorghum, peanuts, fish, sheep and cattle, while industry includes meatpacking, fish processing and dairy products. Namibia’s currency is the Namibian dollar.
Since gaining independence, English has been the official language of Namibia, although it is the native language of less than 1% of the population. German is another language widely spoken by those of German descent with close on 15,000 black Namibians still speaking Namibian Black German. Many other languages, and dialects thereof, are spoken in Namibia, including:
- Oshiwambo dialects (most widely spoken)
- Khoisan (Naro, Xóõ, Kung-Ekoka, ‡Kx’au||’ein and Kxoe)
Conservation and wildlife are the heartbeat of Namibia
Wildlife in Namibia is just as diverse as the population and tourists are drawn to Namibia every year for hunting, game watching and photo safaris. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts and the world’s most successful conservancy set-up, Namibia enjoys the largest populations internationally of endangered species such as seals, black rhino and cheetah, while desert lions and elephants are unique to Namibia.
Namibia boasts a surprising number of living things, despite its arid environment. There are over 200 species of terrestrial mammals, 40 species of marine mammals, 645 species of birds, 50 different kinds of frogs, 115 types of fish, 250 species of reptiles, 4334 species of plants of which 683 are endemic, and thousands of insects and arachnids – that we know about!
These life forms may be viewed in many of Namibia’s conservation areas which take up over 40% of Namibia’s total land area. The best known Namibian National Parks are:
- Etosha National Park
- Bwabwata National Park
- Dorob National Park
- Khaudom National Park
- Namib-Naukluft National Park
- Skeleton Coast National Park
- Waterberg National Park
Apart from these there are 18 nature reserves and several trans-boundary protected areas in Namibia and across the borders of other countries like Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana.
Another important tourist attraction are the various adventure activities such as river-rafting on the Orange River, tiger fishing, skydiving, quad biking, hot air ballooning, dune boarding and other desert-based activities, mostly taking place around Swakopmund.
Every one of Namibia’s 14 regions, which are further sub-divided into 121 constituencies, has some attraction, as follows:
- Zambezi Region – Caprivi Strip and Zambezi, Cuando and Kwando Rivers
- Erongo Region – Swakopmund’s many adventure activities
- Hardap Region – The NamibRand Reserve and Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park
- Karas Region – Hot water springs at Ais-Ais, the Fish River Canyon, Kokerboom Forest and the harbour town of Lüderitz
- Kavango East Region – Western Caprivi Strip
- Kavango West Region – Okavango River and Samsitu Lake
- Khomas Region – Home to Namibia’s capital Windhoek
- Kunene Region – Etosha National Park and Twyfelfontein
- Ohangwena Region – Rural villages and Omauni Community Conservancy
- Omaheke Region – Sandveld and Kalahari wilderness
- Omusati Region – Ruacan Falls and Uukwaluudhi Conservancy
- Oshana Region – Owamboland
- Oshikoto Region – Etosha National Park
- Otjozondjupa Region – Waterberg Plateau Park and Grootfontein
Add to this the Namib Desert, Skeleton Coast and Sossusvlei, which span several of these regions and it is easy to see why Namibia is one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations.
Curious? Come and visit, we’d love to show you around our fascinating country.