Country and People of Namibia

 

Namibia is not  described "Country of Contrasts" for nothing. On an elevated plateau in 1.000 to 1.200 m above sea level lying, the country declines to the Atlantic Ocean. The highest elevations - Brandberg 2.579 m, Spitzkoppe 1.728 m and 1.584 m, Moltkeblick 2.480 m and Gamsberg 2.349 m raise out of this elevated plateau. It is flowed through  from rivers, that are partial boundary rivers to the neighbour countries and lead water continuously as Oranje, Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Kwando/Linyanti/Chobe and periodic flowing rivers, according to the amount of rain fall in the rainy season, as Fish River, Kuiseb, Swakop, Ugab only around some. The country is very thin settled with 2,2 inhabitants per km², because a great number of the population live in the capital Windhoek and other bigger towns as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Okahandja, Lüderitz, Keetmanshoop, Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb etc.. Intense colours, a various kind of species and plant world as well as the extraordinary mixture of African culture and European influences make a journey to Namibia unforgettable. The branch of trade "tourism" therefore has not for nothing the largest growth. On the page "Tourism" you find out more about the country and his sights.

 

        Namibia - the Country in facts
General:
Surface area:
824.268 km²
Capital: Windhoek (400.000 inhabitants)
Population: 2,2 million inhabitants
Official language: English, 13 ethnic cultures,  
                              16 languages and dialects
Infrastructure:
Network of roads:
5.450 km tarred roads, 37.000 km
                               gravel roads, left-hand traffic
Airports: Hosea Kutako International Airport
                Eros Airport (Windhoek-town) and  
                smaller airports / airstrips all over the country
Rail network: 2.382 km narrow gauge
Economy:
Main sections:
Mining, Fishing, Tourism & Agriculture   
                          (biggest employer)
Mining:
Diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, silver and
              gold, lithium minerals, dimension stones (granite,
              marble, blue sodalite) and many semi-precious
              stones.
Flora: 14 vegetation zones, 120 species of trees, 200
             endemic plant species, 100 plus species of lichen.
Fauna: Big game: Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo, 
              Cheetah, Leopard, Giraffe;
              20 antelope species, 240 mammal Species (14 
              endemic), 250 reptile species, 50 frog species and
              +/- 630 bird species.

 


 
Namibia and his People

 

The San / Bushmen
The Bushmen or
San are regarded as the original inhabitants in southern Africa. After they could realize their traditional way of life as hunters and gatherers for thousands of years their living space was increasingly restricted by immigration of African tribes and later of the white colonizers / settlers. The allocation  of reservations in which it is also prohibited for the Sam to use the natural resources, limits their  living space. Today it is supposed that still about  40.000 Bushmen live in Namibia, but  however, only 10 % of them still practise their traditional, nomadic lifestyle. Most San people now live or work on farms in eastern Namibia or live in remote communal areas in Otjozondjupa and Omusati, having been strong influenced in their way of life by Western culture, economies and lifestyle.
 

 

The Nama
The people of
Nama lived initially  as cattle breeding nomads  northern and southern of the Oranje River, before they later  moved further to the north and were involved into belligerent quarrels with the Herero. The Boers gave them the name "Hottentots", which has a negative touch and therefore uncustomary to day. The Nama  name themselves "Khoi-Khoi - the true  / real people. Known historical leaders of the Nama were Janker Afrikaaner and Hendrik Witbooi. In the Naukluft environd an insight can be gained into lifestyle of the Nama people by visiting the small community at Nabasib, 15 km south of Büllsport.

 


 

The Damara
The
Damara are regarded as the oldest nation of Namibia next to the San. They stood  a long time under displacement and suppression through the later immigrated Herero and Nama whose language they picked up also later. They call themselves with proud "Nu khoin" - Black people. The Damara make up a component of 8.5% of the Namibian nation. The majority live in the north-western regions of the country but others are found widely across Namibia, where they live and work in towns, on commercial farms, on mines, as well as at the coast.
 

 

The Herero
The Herero are a pastoral cattle breeding people who migrated to Namibia several centuries ago. The wealth and the prestige are determined by the number of  cattle. The remarkable and voluminous dress clothing of the Herero-women comes from the German colonial time (Wilhelminische Tracht) that the more traditional of them wear to this day. During the revolt of the Herero a majority of their people was killed and the rest was mainly driven out into Botswana of to day. Now about 100.000 live in Namibia again. The towns Okahandja and Okakarara are Herero-strongholds.

 

The Himba
The traditionally nomad pastoral tribe of the Himba or Ovahimba lives today still in very initial manner in the Kaokoland. Initially they belonged to the Herero and in contrary to them they have preserved most of their traditions. The Himba, especially the women, are noted for their unusual sculptural beauty, enhanced by intricate hairstyles and traditional adornments. They rub their bodies with red ochre and fat, a treatment that protects their skins against the harsh desert climate. A family may move from one home to another several times a year to seek grazing for their goats and cattle. Men, women and children wear body adornments made from iron and shell beads.
 

 

The Owambo
With a part of about 50 % the Owambo set the by far greatest population group of Namibia. Their traditional settlement area is the central water-rich north at the boundary to Angola above the Etosha National Park. Owambo houses are traditionally of rondaval type, mostly surrounded by palisades and often connected by passages. Cattle kraals usually form part of the complex, which is surrounded by cultivated lands. The Owambo practise a mixed economy of agriculture, mainly mahangu (pearl millet), sorghum and beans, and animal husbandry (cattle) supplemented by fishing in shallow pools and watercourses called oshanas.
 


 

The Kavango
Forming the border between Namibia and Angola for more than 400 km is the Okavango River, lifetime of the Kavango people, who make a traditional living from fishing, cattle farming and cultivating sorghum, miller and maize on the wide fertile plains on either side. Closely related to the Owambo, the Kavango also originate from the large lakes of East Africa. To day, thousands of young Kavango works as migratory labourers on farms, in mines and in urban centres. An important local industry is woodcarving, Bowls, masks, ornaments, furniture and other functional items are produced for the tourist and other markets.
 


 

The Caprivians
Just under 80.000 people live in East Caprivi, which borders on Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. Most Caprivians are linguistically related to the Lozi and Makololo of Barotseland in Zambia. Most Caprivians are subsistence farmers who make their living on the banks of the Zambezi, Kwando, Linyanti and Chobe rivers. Land is cultivated under a system of individual right of occupation as allocated by the people' authorities. Grazing and veldt products are used on a communal basis. In addition to fishing and hunting, a significant but not exclusive element of the local economy, they keep cattle and cultivate the land.


 

The Topnaars
Only about 400 members of the in total 3.000 Topnaars still live in the Namib. The history and culture of this desert nation is closely associated with the Nara melon from whose kernels a very nutritious edible oil can be extracted and it is said to have medicininal properties. Nowadays it is to be attempted by a cultivation of the plant  to give a better economic future to the nation of the Topnaars  and therefore to preserve also their traditional way of life. To day the Topnaars tend their sheep and goats in the harsh environments. Some members of the community work in Walvis Bay. The Topnaar people have many unique traditions and customs linked to their existence in the Namib.
 


 
The Tswana
Numbering approx. 8.000, theTswana  are the smallest cultural group in  Namibia. They are allied with their neighbours in Botswana, the Batswana, whose country they gave the name. Most Namibian Tswanas live in the eastern part of the country, where they are involved in farming.
 

 

The Rehoboth Baster
The history of the Rehoboth Basters goes back to the settlement of the first Dutch colonists under Jan van Riebeeck, who landed at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. European settlers came into contact with the indigenous Khosan people (Nama). The children born from this association whose mixed blood origins were obvious, were called "coloureds" or "bastards". In 1868 a group of some 90 Baster families moved to Namibia from the Cape. To day the Baster community consists of approx. 72.000 people and most of them live in the South of Windhoek. Their home language is Afrikaans and their way of life is similar to that of their Afrikaner forebears. While they are traditionally stock and crop farmers, today many of them are involved in other sections of the community, especially the building trade. A large number of Rehoboth Basters commute to Windhoek on a daily or weekly basis. In the sphere of culture and religion they maintain a Western way of life. It was their wish to keep the name "baster" also in future and they are proud of it.
 


 
The Whites
Also after the independence of Namibia, the white population plays furthermore a central role in Namibia's economy. Approx. 100.000 Namibians of European descent ( 6% of the population) currently live in Namibia, of whom about two-thirds speak Afrikaans, one quarter German and the rest mostly English, and to a lesser extent, Portuguese. Most of them live in the urban, central and southern parts of the country, and most are involved in commerce, manufacturing, farming, professional services and, to a diminishing extent, the civil service. English was selected as Namibia's official language and Afrikaans, the common vernacular language, was retired to a secondary position after serving with German as one of three official languages for some 60 years.
 

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