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Useful Notes / Namibia

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Officially the Republic of Namibia (Afrikaans: Republiek van Namibië, German: Republik Namibia, Khoekhoegowab: Namibiab Republiki dib), Namibia is a mainly-desert country in Southern Africa. It has a tiny population compared to its size; at 3 people per square kilometer, it is Africa's least and the world's second-least densely-peopled country.

The country is known in the world for its San "Bushmen" people, who still practice hunting and gathering. They make up only a small minority, however; most of the country's population consists of Bantu-speaking pastoralists and sedentary people, such as the Ovambo, Kavango, and Herero. Non-Bantu ethnic groups like the Damara and Nama were long thought to be pastoral relatives of the San (they were grouped under the umbrella term "Khoisan"), but the idea is discredited today.

The region was largely uncontacted by the West until the 19th century; the Portuguese reached the Skeleton Coast in the late 15th century, but did not attempt to brave the treacherous Namib Desert. Afrikaans-speaking mixed-race people like the Oorlams and Basters settled the region in the 18th century and built some of its earliest permanent settlements, including Windhoek (although the name only dates back to 1890). Eventually, the region fell prey to the European Scramble for Africa. Between 1884 and 1915, Namibia was a colony called German South West Africa, and to this day, the country still has a small but notable German minority.

In 1890, the Chancellor of Germany, Leo von Caprivi, negotiated a deal with Britain. Caprivi wanted access to the Zambezi river so German ships could navigate to its colonies in East Africa. In return, Germany gave up all claims to the British territory of Zanzibar (which it did not control; it just finally admitted that it was Britain's to "protect", and it wouldn't get in the way), and it also got the North Sea island of Heligoland as part of the deal.note  Upon further checking, however, it turned out that just 60 kilometers down the Zambezi from the edge of the 450 kilometer-long territory given by Britain was the world's largest waterfall, Victoria Falls, leaving the river unnavigable. Despite this, the territory, now known as the Caprivi Strip, has remained throughout Namibia's existence. The Caprivi Strip is home to Lozi people, who are ethnically and linguistically quite different from the rest of the country's people and who were not even considered when it was formed. This led to the formation of a rebel group known as the Caprivi Liberation Army, who fought a war with the Namibian government in the late 90's.

From 1904 to 1908, the Imperial German government conducted an extermination campaign against the Herero and Nama people, totaling over 80% of their population. It is now considered the 20th century's earliest genocide. Although concentration camps were used in the earlier Second Boer War, the Herero and Namaqua genocide saw probably the earliest instance of camps being used to exterminate a people, thus making it something of a precursor to the much-larger Holocaust. The German government officially apologized for the genocide in 2004, but refused to compensate the victims' descendants until 2021, when it agreed to pay €1.1 billion over a span of 30 years.

Following World War I, the Germans lost South West Africa to South Africa, which was given a mandate by the League of Nations to govern the territory. After World War II, the League was replaced by the United Nations, which made decolonization a priority. Although it never legally integrated South West Africa, South Africa continuously refused to grant it independence, despite the UN making it clear in 1966 that its rule over the territory was illegal. South Africa also infused its racist Apartheid rule by creating bantustans in South West Africa under the Odendaal Plan. The People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), the military wing of South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), rose up against the government in 1966, triggering over two decades of independence war against South Africa. The PLAN was supported by Angola and Cuba, which sent thousands of troops to aid the rebels. Although the war ended in a stalemate, it ultimately resulted in South Africa agreeing to leave South West Africa on the condition that Cuba would leave the continent, paving the way for Namibia to achieve independence in 1990. The SWAPO has governed the country since.

Namibia and Namibians in media:

  • The Dogme 95 film The King Is Alive is set in Namibia. It is about a bus of tourists breaking down and the occupants deciding to put on an amateur production of King Lear.
  • The Thomas Pynchon novel V has deals partially with the Herero Wars.
  • The South African movie Lost in the Desert (known in Afrikaans as Dirkie) is a survival story also set in the Namibian deserts.
  • The Burning Shore by Wilber Smith is mostly set on the Skeleton Coast.
  • The South African film Oh shucks! Here comes UNTAG is set in the fictional country of Namabwe, which is obviously based on Namibia.
  • André P Brink set his novel The Other Side of Silence features Namibia and the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop.
  • Gravel is one rare sight where Namibia is featured in a Racing Game. This one features open-road courses through the dry Savannah and coastlines.
  • Nwabudike Morgan of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri made one of his several fortunes from diamond mines in Namibia.
  • A two-part special of the Prime Video series The Grand Tour had the show's three presenters drive dune buggies from the Skeleton Coast all the way up to a much smaller beach at the Angola border, with a stop at the capital Windhoek along the way.

The Namibian flag
The blue half symbolizes the sky and the Atlantic Ocean, while the green half to vegetation and natural resources; in between is a diagonal band colored red to signify the Namibians, whose white fimbriations symbolize peace and unity; and the yellow twelve-rayed sun at the canton symbolizes energy. The colors combine the blue/red/green color scheme of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), Namibia's dominant party, and the red/white/blue of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), the SWAPO's conservative opposition coalition.

The Namibian national anthem

Namibia, land of the brave
Freedom’s fight we have won
Glory to their bravery
Whose blood waters our freedom

We give our love and loyalty
Together in unity
Contrasting beautiful Namibia

Namibia our country
Beloved land of savannahs,
Hold high the banner of liberty

Namibia our Country,
Namibia Motherland,
We love thee.

  • Unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic
    • President: Hage Geingob
    • Vice President: Nangolo Mbumba
    • Prime Minister: Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila
    • Deputy Prime Minister: Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah
    • Chief Justice: Peter Shivute

  • Capital and largest city: Windhoek
  • Population: 2,550,226
  • Area: 825,615 km² (318,772 sq mi) (34th)
  • Currency: Namibian dollar (N$) (MMK), South African rand (R) (ZAR)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: NA
  • Country calling code: 264
  • Highest point: Brandberg (2573 m/8,442 ft) (90th)
  • Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean (3,646 m/11,962 ft) (-)