Namibia's economy is dependent on a few primary commodity exports, including minerals (diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten), livestock (both meat and hides), and fishing. Mining accounts for 20% of GDP and the majority of exports. Tourism is also an important Namibian industry. Led by the diamond industry, the GDP grew 6.6% in 1994, but by only 4% in 2001. The economy is highly integrated with that of South Africa; Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990. Three-fourths of Namibia's imports originate there, and transport and communications infrastructure are strongly linked with South Africa. Years of white rule have resulted in one of the most unequal income distributions on the African continent. However, a democratically elected government is following pragmatic economic policies committed to the development of previously neglected regions of the country.
The economy has a superior transport and communications infrastructure, an extensive natural resource base, a small population, and a stable government committed to competitiveness in attracting investment. Large oil and gas reserves were discovered in 2000, that should be tapped by 2005. For these reasons analysts believe that Namibia's economy holds enormous potential for long-term economic growth.
Unemployment was high at around 35% in 2000, and the government was geared toward the creation of jobs. The government indicated it wished to privatize state-owned enterprises, including in the electricity, telecommunications, water, and transportation sectors, but no established time frame for such privatization was in place in 2002. Although tourism accounted for less than 3% of GDP in 2002, it grew faster than any other sector of the economy. Ecotourism is an important segment of the tourism industry, as Namibia has a wide variety of wildlife and striking scenery.