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Namibia officially the Republic of Namibia is a country in southern Africa on the Atlantic coast. It shares borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa to the south. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Background History

South Africa occupied the German colony of South-West Africa during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II, when it annexed the territory. In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that became Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Namibia has been governed by SWAPO since the country won independence in 1990. Hifikepunye Pohamba was elected president in November 2004 in a landslide victory replacing Sam Nujoma who led the country during its first 14 years of self rule. Pohamba was reelected in November 2009.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Namibia
  • conventional short form: Namibia
  • former: German South-West Africa


  • name: Windhoek
  • geographic coordinates: 22 34 S, 17 05 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 21 March 1990 (from South African mandate)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Hage Geingob (since 21 March 2015)
  • head of government: President Hage Geingob (since 21 March 2015) ; Prime Minister Kuugongelwa-Amadhila Saara (since 21 March 2015)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 27-28 November 2014 (next to be held in 2019)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral legislature consists of the National Council and the National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court


People & Society


  • 2,198,406 (global rank: 143)
  • growth rate: 0.67% (global rank: 147)


  • noun: Namibitan(s)
  • adjective: Namibian

Major Cities:

  • Windhoek (capital): 380,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • black 87.5%, white 6%, mixed 6.5%


  • Christian 80% to 90% (at least 50% Lutheran), indigenous beliefs 10% to 20%


  • Oshiwambo languages 48.9%, Nama/Damara 11.3%, Afrikaans 10.4% (common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population), Otjiherero languages 8.6%, Kavango languages 8.5%, Caprivi languages 4.8%, English (official) 3.4%, other African languages 2.3%, other 1.7%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 51.85 years (global rank: 215)
  • male: 52.22 years
  • female: 51.46 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 45.64 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 46)
  • male: 48.6 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 42.59 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 13.3% (2012 est.) (global rank: 6)
  • people living with AIDS: 220,100 (2012 est.) (global rank: 27)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 88.8%
  • male: 89%
  • female: 88.5%



Overview: The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 11.5% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Marine diamond mining is becoming increasingly important as the terrestrial diamond supply has dwindled. Namibia is the world's fourth-largest producer of uranium. It also produces large quantities of zinc and is a small producer of gold and other minerals. The mining and quarrying sectors employs only about 1.8% of the population. Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years food shortages are a major problem in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides one of the world's most unequal income distributions, as shown by Namibia's 59.7 GINI coefficient. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Namibia receives 30%-40% of its revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Volatility in the size of Namibia's annual SACU allotment complicates budget planning. Namibia's economy remains vulnerable to volatility in the price of uranium and other commodities. The rising cost of mining diamonds, increasingly from the sea, has reduced profit margins. Namibian authorities recognize these issues and have emphasized the need to increase higher value raw materials, manufacturing, and services, especially in the logistics and transportation sectors.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $17.79 billion (global rank: 139)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $8,200 (global rank: 132)
  • real growth rate: 4.4% (global rank: 70)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 7.7%, industry: 29.6%, services: 62.6%


  • currency: Namibian Dollar (NAD)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 9.282

Unemployment Rate

  • population below poverty line: 28.7%
  • unemployment rate: 27.4%

Agricultural Products:

  • millet, sorghum, peanuts, grapes; livestock; fish


  • meatpacking, fish processing, dairy products; mining (diamonds, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten, uranium, copper)

Export Commodities:

  • diamonds, copper, gold, zinc, lead, uranium; cattle, processed fish, karakul skins

Import Commodities:

  • foodstuffs; petroleum products and fuel, machinery and equipment, chemicals




  • Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and South Africa


  • total: 824,292 sq km (global rank: 34)
  • land: 823,290 sq km
  • water: 1,002 sq km
  • comparative: slightly more than half the size of Alaska


  • desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic

Land Use:

  • arable land: 0.97%
  • permanent crops: 0.01%
  • other: 99.02%

Natural Resources:

  • diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, silver, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, tungsten, zinc, salt, hydropower, fish

Current Environmental Issues:

  • limited natural freshwater resources; desertification; wildlife poaching; land degradation has led to few conservation areas


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: concerns from international experts and local populations over the Okavango Delta ecology in Botswana and human displacement scuttled Namibian plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on Popa Falls along the Angola-Namibia border; the governments of South Africa and Namibia have not signed or ratified the text of the 1994 Surveyor's General agreement placing the boundary in the middle of the Orange River; Namibia has supported, and in 2004 Zimbabwe dropped objections to, plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited, Botswana-Zambia boundary in the river
  • human trafficking: Namibia is predominantly a country of origin and destination for children and, to a lesser extent, women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; victims lured by promises of legitimate jobs are forced to work in hazardous condition in urban centers and on commercial farms; traffickers exploit Namibian children, as well as children from Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, for forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, domestic service, and criminal activities; children are also forced into prostitution, often catering to tourists from southern Africa and Europe; girls of the San tribe are particularly vulnerable

Published: Thursday, April 09, 2015