Namibia, officially Republic of Namibia, is a country in South West Africa. It is bordered by Angola to the north, Zambia to the northeast, Botswana to the east, South Africa to the southeast and south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It ranges from arid in the north to desert on the coast and in the east. The landscape including desert, mountains, canyons and savannas are spectacular to see.
The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population. The capital, Windhoek and coastal town Swakopmund contain German colonial-era buildings. In the north, Etosha National Park’s salt pan draws game including rhinos and giraffes. Namibia takes conservation seriously. In fact, more than 40 percent of the country is under conservation management. It was also the first African country to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution. Hence its bountiful wildlife.
The national language is English and the electric plugs are the same as neighbouring South Africa, round 3 pin. The Namibian Dollar follows the South African Rand’s value, which incidentally can be used throughout the country.
The only permanent rivers are the Kunene, Okavango, Mashi, Zambezi on the northern border and the Orange on the southern. Namibia has a long, narrow eastern extension called the Caprivi Strip, based on a German misconception that access to the Zambezi meant access to the Indian Ocean.
After 106 years of German and South African rule, Namibia became independent on March 21, 1990, under a democratic multiparty constitution.
Namibia is divided from west to east into three main topographic zones: the coastal Namib desert, the Central Plateau and the Kalahari. Diamonds and uranium are found at Oranjemund in the south and Arandis in the centre. The Namib, 50 to 80 miles wide over most of its length, is constricted in the north where the Kaokoveld, the western mountain scarp of the Central Plateau, abuts on the sea.
The Central Plateau, which varies in altitude from 3,200 to 6,500 feet, is the core of the agricultural life of Namibia. In the north it abuts on the Kunene and Okavango river valleys and in the south on the Orange. Brandberg, also known as Mount Brand is Namibia’s highest mountain standing at 8,442 feet and is located along the plateau’s western escarpment.
Namibia is richly endowed with game and has established several parks and reserves to celebrate and protect its rich plant and animal life. These include Etosha National Park, Skeleton Coast Park, Namib Naukluft Park Sperrgebiet National Park, Ai-Ais and Fish River Canyon Park, along Namibia’s southern border.
Namibia is located on the southern margin of the tropics and has distinct seasons. The coast is cooled by the Benguela Current which carries with it the country’s rich fish stocks and averages less than 2 inches of rainfall annually. The Central Plateau and the Kalahari have wide diurnal temperature ranges, more than 30 °C on summer days and less than 10 °C in winter. In Windhoek, on the plateau, the average temperature for December is 24 °C and the average maximum 31 °C. In July these averages are 13 °C and 20 °C, respectively. Humidity is normally low and rainfall increases from about 10 inches on the southern and western parts of the plateau to about 20 inches in the north-central part and more than 24 inches on the Caprivi Strip and Otavi Mountains. However, rainfall is highly variable and multiyear droughts are common.
The history of Namibia can be found carved into rock paintings found to the south and in Twyfelfontein, some dating back to 26,000 B.C. A long lineage of various groups including Bushmen, Bantu herdsmen and finally the Himba, Herero and Nama tribes have been making this rugged land home for thousands of years.
As Namibia has one of the world's most barren and inhospitable coastlines, it wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that explorers, ivory hunters, prospectors and missionaries began to journey into its interior. Beyond these visitors, Namibia was largely spared the attentions of European powers until the end of the 19th century, when it was colonised by Germany.
The colonisation period was marred by many conflicts and rebellions by the pre-colonial Namibia population until World War 1 when it abruptly ended upon Germany's surrender to the South African expeditionary army. In effect, this transition only traded one colonial experience for another.
In 1966 the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) launched the war for liberation for the area soon-named Namibia. The struggle for independence intensified and continued until South Africa agreed in 1988 to end its Apartheid administration. After democratic elections were held in 1989, Namibia became an independent state on March 21, 1990. To date, Namibia boasts a proud record of uninterrupted peace and stability for all to enjoy.
Getting to and around Namibia
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Namibia has one of the best health care systems in Africa, as measured by both its population-to-doctor and its population-to-hospital-bed ratios. Emphasis is placed on primary and preventative health services and the country’s system of regional hospitals and mobile clinics has attempted to raise the level of services available in rural locations.