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Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia (Afrikaans: Republiek van Namibië, German: Republik Namibia), is a country in Southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Oceanmarker. It shares borders with Angolamarker and Zambiamarker to the north, Botswanamarker and Zimbabwemarker to the east, and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990 following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoekmarker ( ).

Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), the Commonwealth of Nations and many other international organisations. It has been given many names: the land of contrasts, the land God made in anger, the ageless land. For many years it was known only as South West Africa, but it adopted the name Namibia, after the Namib Desertmarker. It is the second least densely populated country in the world, after Mongoliamarker.

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. It was visited by the Britishmarker and Dutchmarker missionaries during the late 18th century. It was also visited by Dorslandmarker trekkers in 1879, but became a German protectorate in 1884. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated the country to South Africa, which imposed their laws and apartheid policy.

In 1966, uprisings and demands by African leaders led the United Nations to assume direct responsibility over the territory, changing the name to Namibia in 1968 and recognizing South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) as 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. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990 (with the exception of Walvis Baymarker - a city that remained under South African control until 1994)

Namibia has a population of 1.8 million people and a stable multiparty parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and mining of precious stones and metals form the backbone of Namibia's economy. Approximately half the population live below the international poverty line of U.S.$1.25 a day, and the nation has suffered heavily from the effects of HIV/AIDS, with 15% of the adult population infected with HIV in 2007.

History

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. The first Europeans to disembark and explore the region were the Portuguese navigators Diogo Cão in 1485 and Bartolomeu Dias in 1486, still the region was not claimed by the Portuguese crown. However, like most of Sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia was not extensively explored by Europeans until the 19th century, when traders and settlers arrived, principally from Germany and Sweden.

Namibia became a German colony in 1884 to forestall British encroachment and was known as German South-West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika) – apart from Walvis Baymarker, which was under British control. From 1904 to 1907, the Herero and the Namaqua took up arms against the Germans and in the subsequent Herero and Namaqua genocide, 10,000 Nama (half the population) and 25,000 to 100,000 Herero (three quarters of the population) were killed. South Africa occupied the colony during World War I and administered it as a League of Nations mandate territory.

Following the League's supersession by the United Nations in 1946, South Africa refused to surrender its earlier mandate to be replaced by a United Nations Trusteeship agreement, requiring closer international monitoring of the territory's administration. Although the South African government wanted to incorporate 'South-West Africa' into its territory, it never officially did so, although it was administered as the de facto 'fifth province', with the white minority having representation in the whites-only Parliament of South Africa.

In 1966, the South-West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) military wing, People's Liberation Army of Namibia, a guerrilla group launched a war of independence, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration of Namibia, in accordance with a United Nations peace plan for the entire region. Transition for independence started in 1989 but it was only on 21 March 1990 in which the country officially claimed full independence. Walvis Baymarker was ceded to Namibia in 1994 upon the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

Geography

At , Namibia is the world's thirty-fourth largest country (after Venezuelamarker). After Mongoliamarker, Namibia is the least densely populated country in the world ( ).

The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib Desertmarker, the Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desertmarker. Although the climate is generally extremely dry, there are a few exceptions. The cold, north-flowing Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean accounts for some of the low precipitation.

Central Plateau

The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coastmarker to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange Rivermarker to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east. The Central Plateau is home to the highest point in Namibia at Königsteinmarker elevation . Within the wide, flat Central Plateau is the majority of Namibia’s population and economic activity. Windhoekmarker, the nation’s capital, is located here, as well as most of the arable land. Although arable land accounts for only 1% of Namibia, nearly half of the population is employed in agriculture.

The abiotic conditions here are similar to those found along the Escarpment, described below; however the topographic complexity is reduced. Summer temperatures in the area can reach 40 °C, and frosts are common in the winter.

Namib Desert

The Namib Desert is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along the entire coastline, which varies in width between 100 to many hundreds of kilometres. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast. The sands that make up the sand sea are a consequence of erosional processes that take place within the Orange River valley and areas further to the south. As sand-laden waters drop their suspended loads into the Atlanticmarker, onshore currents deposit them along the shore. The prevailing south west winds then pick up and redeposit the sand in the form of massive dunes in the widespread sand sea, the largest sand dunes in the world. In areas where the supply of sand is reduced because of the inability of the sand to cross riverbeds, the winds also scour the land to form large gravel plains. In many areas within the Namib Desert, there is little vegetation with the exception of lichens found in the gravel plains, and in dry river beds where plants can access subterranean water.

Great Escarpment

The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over . Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase as you move further inland from the cold Atlanticmarker waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish. Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is nonetheless significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation. The water, along with rapidly changing topography, is responsible for the creation of microhabitats which offer a wide range of organisms, many of them endemic. Vegetation along the escarpment varies in both form and density, with community structure ranging from dense woodlands to more shrubby areas with scattered trees. A number of Acacia species are found here, as well as grasses and other shrubby vegetation.

Bushveld

The Bushveld is found in north eastern Namibia along the Angolanmarker border and in the Caprivi Strip which is the vestige of a narrow corridor demarcated for the German Empiremarker to access the Zambezi Rivermarker. The area receives a significantly greater amount of precipitation than the rest of the country, averaging around per year. Temperatures are also cooler and more moderate, with approximate seasonal variations of between and . The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water. Located adjacent to the Bushveld in north-central Namibia is one of nature’s most spectacular features: the Etosha Panmarker. For most of the year it is a dry, saline wasteland, but during the wet season, it forms a shallow lake covering more than 6000 square kilometres. The area is ecologically important and vital to the huge numbers of birds and animals from the surrounding savannah that gather in the region as summer drought forces them to the scattered waterholes that ring the pan. The Bushveld area has been demarcated by the World Wildlife Fund as part of the Angolan Mopane woodlands ecoregion, which extends north across the Cunene Rivermarker into neighbouring Angolamarker.

Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desertmarker is perhaps Namibia’s best known geographical feature. Shared with South Africa and Botswanamarker, it has a variety of localized environments ranging from hyper-arid sandy desert, to areas that seem to defy the common definition of desert. One of these areas, known as the Succulent Karoo, is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; fully one third of the world’s succulents are found in the Karoo.

The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation. The Karoo apparently does not experience drought on a regular basis, so even though the area is technically desert, regular winter rains provide enough moisture to support the region’s interesting plant community. Another feature of the Kalaharimarker, indeed many parts of Namibia, are inselbergs, isolated mountains that create microclimates and habitat for organisms not adapted to life in the surrounding desert matrix.

Namibia's Coastal Desert

Namibia’s Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. And its sand dunes are the highest sand dunes in the world, created by the strong onshore winds.

The Namib Desert and the Namib-Naukluft National Parkmarker is located here. The Namibian coastal deserts are the richest source of diamonds on earth, making Namibia the world's largest producer of diamonds. It is divided into the northern Skeleton Coast and the southern Diamond Coast. Because of the location of the shoreline—at the point where the Atlantic's cold water reach Africa—there is often extremely dense fog.

Sandy beach comprises 54% and mixed sand and rock add another 28%. Only 16% of the total length is rocky shoreline. The coastal plains are dune fields, gravel plains covered with lichen and some scattered salt pan. Near the coast there are areas where the dunes are vegetated with hammocks.

Namibia has rich coastal and marine resources that remain largely unexplored.

Towns

The capital and largest city, Windhoek, is in the centre of the country. It is home to the country's Central Administrative Region, Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airportmarker and the country's railhead. Other important towns are:



Politics

The politics of Namibia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the president of Namibia is elected to a five-year term and is both the head of state and the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the bicameral Parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The management of the rule of law and the observance of basic human rights in Namibia are constantly scrutinized. The bi-annual "Namibia Law Journal" provides a forum for legal practitioners and academics to comment on and discuss issues of legal importance as an indispensable tool for the development of law and the maintanance of the rule of law in Namibia.

In 2008, Namibia ranked 6th on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens.Currently Namibia prepares for the Presidential and the National Assembly elections to be held on 27 and 28 November 2009. The Electoral Commission of Namibia has published a "Handbook for Election Observers in Namibia" to enable observers (and party agents) to professionally observe the Presidential and National Assembly Elections 2009, the Regional Councils and Local Authorities Elections 2010 and subsequent By-Elections.

Regions and constituencies

Namibia is divided into 13 regions and subdivided into 107 constituencies.

Foreign relations

Namibia follows a largely independent foreign policy, with lingering affiliations with states that aided the independence struggle, including Libyamarker and Cubamarker. With a small army and a fragile economy, the Namibian Government's principal foreign policy concern is developing strengthened ties within the Southern African region. A dynamic member of the Southern African Development Community, Namibia is a vocal advocate for greater regional integration. Namibia became the 160th member of the United Nations on 23 April 1990. On its independence it became the fiftieth member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Reporters Without Borders' Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007 World Press Freedom Index 2007Reporters Without Borders ranks Namibia as 25th out of 169 countries, as compared with 56th out of 166 in 2003, and 31st out of 139 in 2002.

International disputes

Namibia is involved in several minor international disputes, including:

Population

Demographics



Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongoliamarker. The majority of the Namibian population is black African — mostly of the Ovambo ethnicity, which forms about half of the population — and concentrated in the north of the country. Other ethnic groups are the Herero and Himba people, who speak a similar language.

In addition to the Bantu majority, there are large groups of Khoisan (such as Nama and Bushmen), who are descendants of the original inhabitants of Southern Africa. The country also contains some descendants of refugees from Angola. There are also two smaller groups of people with mixed racial origins, called "Coloureds" and "Basters", who together make up 6.5% (with the Coloureds outnumbering the Basters two to one). As of 2006 there were as many as 40,000 Chinese in Namibia.

Whites of Portuguese, Dutch, German, British and French ancestry make up about 7% of the population; they form the second-largest population of European ancestry, both in terms of percentage and actual numbers, in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. Most Namibian whites and nearly all those of mixed race speak Afrikaans and share similar origins, culture, and religion as the white and coloured populations of South Africa. A smaller proportion of whites (around 30,000) trace their family origins directly back to German colonial settlers and maintain German cultural and educational institutions. Nearly all Portuguese settlers came to the country from the former Portuguese colonymarker of Angolamarker.

Religion

The Christian community makes up at least 80% of the population of Namibia, with at least 50% of these Lutheran. At least 10% of the population hold Indigenous beliefs. The faith of the remaining portion of the population is unknown.

Missionary work during the 1800s drew many Namibians to Christianity. While most Namibian Christians are Lutheran, there also are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, African Methodist Episcopal, and Dutch Reformed Christians represented, as well as some Jewish people.

Language

Although its official language is English, Namibia is a multilingual country as it is illustrated on these examples in English, German, Afrikaans and Oshiwambo.
The official language is English. Until 1990, German and Afrikaans were also official languages. Long before Namibia's independence from South Africa, SWAPO had decided on the country's becoming officially monolingual, consciously choosing this approach in contrast to that of its neighbour which was regarded as "a deliberate policy of ethnolinguistic fragmentation." Therefore, English became the sole official language of Namibia. Afrikaans, German, and Oshiwambo became recognised regional languages.

Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo as their first language, whereas the most widely understood language is Afrikaans. Among the younger generation, the most widely understood language is English. Both Afrikaans and English are used primarily as a second language reserved for public sphere communication, but small first language groups exist throughout the country.

While the official language is English, most of the white population speaks either German or Afrikaans. Even today, 90 years after the end of the German colonial era, the German language plays a leading role as a commercial language. Afrikaans is spoken by 60% of the white community, German is spoken by 32%, English is spoken by 7% and Portuguese by 1%. Geographical proximity to Portuguese-speaking Angola explains the relatively high number of lusophones.

Health

The AIDS epidemic is a large problem in Namibia. Though its rate of infection is substantially lower than that of its eastern neighbor, Botswanamarker, approximately 10% (210,000 people out of 2,063,929) of the Namibian population is infected with the HIV/AIDS. In 2001, there were an estimated 210,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and the estimated death toll in 2003 was 16,000, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is considered as a killer disease and has decreased the working class and resulted in many orphans and this is causing the government to spend a lot of money in providing education,food,shelter and clothing for orphans.

The malaria problem seems to be compounded by the epidemic. Research has shown in Namibia, that the risk of contracting malaria is 14.5% greater if a person is also infected with HIV. The risk of death from malaria is also raised by approximately 50% with a concurrent HIV infection. Given infection rates this large as well as a looming malaria problem, it may be very difficult for the government to deal with both the medical and economic impacts of this epidemic. The country had only 598 physicians in 2002.

Economy



Namibia’s economy consists primarily of mining (12.4% of the gross domestic product in 2007), agriculture (9.5%), and manufacturing (15.4%). In terms of revenue, mining is the biggest contributor to Namibia's economy, accounting for 25% of the country's income. Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world's fifth largest producer of uranium. There has been significant investment in uranium mining and Namibia is set to become the largest exporter of uranium by 2015. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten.

Namibia has a 30-40% unemployment rate and recently passed a 2004 labour act to protect people from job discrimination stemming from pregnancy and HIV/AIDS status. Namibia’s economy is tied closely to South Africa’s due to their shared history. The Central Plateau serves as a transportation corridor from the more densely populated north to South Africa, the source of four-fifths of Namibia’s imports.

Agriculture

About half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence agriculture) for its livelihood, but Namibia must still import some of its food. Although per capita GDP is five times the per capita GDP of Africa's poorest countries, the majority of Namibia's people live in rural areas and exist on a subsistence way of life. Namibia has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world, due in part to the fact that there is an urban economy and a more rural cash-less economy. The inequality figures thus take into account people who do not actually rely on the formal economy for their survival.

Agreement has been reached on the privatisation of several more enterprises in coming years, with hopes that this will stimulate much needed foreign investment. However, reinvestment of environmentally derived capital has hobbled Namibian per capita income. One of the fastest growing areas of economic development in Namibia is the growth of wildlife conservancies. These conservancies are particularly important to the rural generally unemployed population.

Tourism



Namibia generally attracts eco-tourists with the majority visiting to experience the different climates and natural geographical landscapes such as the great eastern desert and plains. There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists.In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding and 4x4ing have become popular, and many cities have companies that provide tours.

The most visited places include the Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyonmarker, Sossusvleimarker, the Skeleton Coastmarker Park, Sesriemmarker, Etosha Panmarker and the coastal towns of Swakopmundmarker, Walvis Baymarker and Lüderitzmarker.

Child labour

Child labour occurs in Namibia, and key stakeholders including government ministries endorsed the Action Programme towards the Elimination of Child Labour in January 2008. It has been reported that Namibia may also be a source and destination for trafficked children; however, the magnitude of the problem is not well documented.

Low public awareness and inadequate training for law enforcement and social service officials are major obstacles to combating the problem. There is evidence that children are trafficked within the country for domestic activities, including forced agricultural labor, cattle herding and vending. Child prostitution cases have also been reported. Laws exist against child labor and trafficking; however, the government has failed to prosecute a single case in human trafficking.

Military

The constitution of Namibia defined the role of the military as "defending the territory and national interests." Namibia formed the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), comprising former enemies in a 23-year bush war: the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and South West African Territorial Force (SWATF). The British formulated the force integration plan and began training the NDF, which consists of five battalions and a small headquarters element.

The United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG)'s Kenyanmarker infantry battalion remained in Namibia for three months after independence to assist in training the NDF and to stabilize the north. According to the Namibian Defence Ministry, enlistments of both men and women will number no more than 7,500. Defence and security account for approximately 3.7% of government spending.

Culture

Education

Secondary school students
Namibia has compulsory free education for 10 years between the ages of 6 and 16 with 7 years of Primary education and 5 years of secondary education. There are four Teacher Training Colleges, three Colleges of Agriculture, a Police Training College, a Polytechnic at university standard[3365]. and a National University[3366].

In 1998, there were 400,325 Namibian students in primary school, about 80% of those eligible, and 115,237 students in secondary schools, about 34% of those eligible. The pupil-teacher ratio in 1999 was estimated at 32:1, with about 8% of the GDP being spent on education.

Most schools in Namibia are state-run, however, there are a few private and semi-private schools that serve the country's education system. Among these are St. Pauls College, Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaatskool, Deutsche Höhere Privat Schulemarker and Windhoek Gymnasium. Click here for an incomplete list of schools in Namibia.

Namibia' Ministry of Education is, in part, powered by the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) in Okahandja. NIED [3367] is responsible for the Nation's curriculum development, educational research, and professional development of teachers.

Communal Wildlife Conservancies

Namibia is the only country in the world to specifically address conservation and protection of natural resources in its constitution. Article 95 states, “The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting international policies aimed at the following: maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.”

In 1993, the newly formed government of Namibia received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism with the financial support from organizations such as USAID, Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF, and Canadian Ambassador’s Fund, together form a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) support structure. The main goal of this project is promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.

Sport

The most popular sport in Namibia is football (soccer). The Namibia national football team qualified for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. Rugby union and cricket are also popular. Namibia were participants in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups. They also played in the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Inline Hockey was first played in 1995 and has also become more and more popular in the last years. The Women's Inline Hockey National Team participated in the 2008 FIRS World Championships. Namibia is the home for one of the toughest footraces in the world, the Namibian ultra marathon.The most famous sportist from Namibia is certainly Frankie Fredericks, sprinter (100 and 200 m). He won 3 Olympic silver medals (1992, 1996) and also has medals from several World Athletics Championships. He is also known for humanitarian activities in Namibia and further.

Gallery

File:Sossusvlei oPEYRE.jpg|Dune in Namibia.File:SAC Namibia-petroglyph.jpg|Petroglyphs near Twyfelfonteinmarker.File:Roter Kamm crater x2.jpg|Roter Kammmarker crater, in the Namib Desert (Landsat image)File:SAC Namibia-sunset.jpg|Namibian sunset.

See also

References

General references


  • AIDSinAfrica.net Web Publication (2007), Retrieved May 20, 2007. From http://www.aidsinafrica.net/
  • Christy, S.A. (2007) Namibian Travel Photography
  • Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme Details (n.d.). http://www.met.gov.na/programmes/cbnrm/cbnrmHome.htm
  • Cowling, S. 2001. Succulent Karoo (AT 1322) World Wildlife Fund Website: www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at1322_full.html
  • Horn, N/Bösl, A (eds), Human rights and the rule of law in Namibia, Macmillan Namibia 2008.
  • Horn, N/Bösl, A (eds), The independence of the judiciary in Namibia, Macmillan Namibia 2008.
  • KAS Factbook Namibia, Facts and figures about the status and development of Namibia, Ed. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.
  • Korenromp, E.L., Williams, B.G., de Vlas, S.J., Gouws, E., Gilks, C.F., Ghys, P.D., Nahlen, B.L. (2005). Malaria Attributable to the HIV-1 Epidemic, Sub-Saharan Africa. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11, 9, 1410-1419.
  • Lange, Glenn-marie. Wealth, Natural Capital, and Sustainable Development: Contrasting Examples from Botswana and Namibia. Environmental & Resource Economics; Nov 2004, Vol. 29 Issue 3, pp. 257–83, 27 p.
  • Fritz, Jean-Claude . La Namibie indépendante. Les coûts d'une décolonisation retardée, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1991.
  • Spriggs, A. 2001. Namib Desert (AT1315) World Wildlife Fund Website: www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at1315_full.html
  • Spriggs, A. 2001. Namibian Savannah Woodlands (AT1316) World Wildlife Fund Website: www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at1316_full.html
  • Spriggs, A. 2001. Namibian Savannah Woodlands (AT0709) World Wildlife Fund Website: www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at0709_full.html
  • Stefanova K. 2005. Protecting Namibia’s Natural Resources. EjournalUSA.
  • UNEP, UNDP, WRI, and World Bank. 2005. Nature in Local Hands: The Case for Namibia’s Conservancies. http://www.wri.org/biodiv/pubs_content_text.cfm?cid=3842
  • World Almanac. 2004. World Almanac Books. New York, NY


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