Republic of Namibia



The Republic of Namibia lies across the Tropic of Capricorn in the south of Africa and covers an area of 824,292 square kilometers (318,259 square miles), making it slightly more than half the size of Alaska. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Botswana and Zimbabwe on the east, Angola on the north, and the South Atlantic Ocean on the west. The Caprivi Strip, a narrow extension of land in the extreme northeast, connects it to Zambia and Zimbabwe. The country is divided into 3 broad zones: the Namib desert to the west; the Kalahari desert to the east; and the Central Plateau. The plateau—made up of mountains, rocky outcrops, sand-filled valleys, and undulating upland plains—covers over 50 percent of the land area. The plateau includes Windhoek, the capital, and slopes eastwards to the Kalahari basin and northward to the Etosha pan, the largest of Namibia's saline lakes.


Namibia's population was estimated to be 1.771 million in 2000, with a birth rate of 35.23 per 1,000 people in 2000 (down from 43 in 1970). The average annual growth rate was about 2.7 percent between 1970-90, falling to 2.5 percent between 1990-97. Population density is extremely low overall, at about 2 people per square kilometer (5.18 per square mile), and 35 percent of the population lives in urban areas. The urban growth rate averaged 5.7 percent annually between 1980-96. Life expectancy in 1997 was estimated at 56 years (up from 48 years in 1970). The population was young, with 43 percent below the age of 15 and just 4 percent above the age of 65.

The Ovambo and Kavango people together constitute over 60 percent of the population. Other groups are the Herero, Damara, Nama and the Caprivians. The San (Bushmen)—who are among the world's oldest surviving hunter-gatherers—have lived in this territory for over 11,000 years. The Basters who settled in Rehoboth in 1870 stem from marriages between white farmers and Khoi mothers in the Cape area. The "Cape Coloreds," immigrants from South Africa, tend to live in urban areas. Of the white group of approximately 90,000, about 50 percent are of South African and 25 percent of German ancestry, about 20 percent of the latter Boer "sudwesters" (longer established immigrants) with a small minority of British ancestry. The population is mostly Christian. English is the official language but is first or second language to only about 20 percent of the population.


Namibia has no territories or colonies.


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U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <> . Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Namibia, April 1995. <> . Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Namibia. <> . Accessed September 2001.

—Allan C. K. Mukungu




Namibian dollar (NAD). One dollar equals 100 cents. There are coins of 1 and 5 dollars, and bills of 10, 50, 100, and 200 dollars. The Namibian dollar is linked on an equal basis to the South African rand, which is also accepted as currency in Namibia.


Diamonds, copper, gold, zinc, lead, uranium, cattle, fish products, karakul skins.


Foodstuffs, petroleum products and fuel, machinery and equipment, chemicals.


US$7.1 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$1.5 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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