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Namibia

Namibia

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.

Government

Country Name:

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

Capital:

  • name: Windhoek
  • population: 342,000
  • geographic coordinates: 22 34 S, 17 05 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 21 March 1990 (from South African mandate)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Hifikepunye Pohamba (since 21 March 2005)
  • head of government: President Hifikepunye Pohamba (since 21 March 2005); Prime Minister Nahas Angula (since 21 March 2005)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term)

Legislative Branch:

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

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court

People & Society

Population:

  • 2,165,828 (global rank: 143)
  • growth rate: 0.817% (global rank: 133)

Nationality:

  • noun: Namibitan(s)
  • adjective: Namibian

Major Cities:

  • Windhoek (capital): 342,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • black 87.5%, white 6%, mixed 6.5%

Religions:

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

Languages:

  • English (official) 7%, Afrikaans (common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population), German 32%, indigenous languages (includes Oshivambo, Herero, Nama) 1%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 52.17 years (global rank: 210)
  • male: 52.47 years
  • female: 51.86 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 45.61 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 51)
  • male: 48.76 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 42.36 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 13.1% (global rank: 7)
  • people living with AIDS: 180,000 (global rank: 28)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 85%
  • male: 86.8%
  • female: 83.5%

Economy

The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 8% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. 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 sector employs only about 3% 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 70.7 GINI coefficient. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Until 2010, Namibia drew 40% of its budget revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Increased payments from SACU put Namibia's budget into surplus in 2007 for the first time since independence. SACU allotments to Namibia increased in 2009, but dropped in 2010 and 2011 because of the global recession, reducing Namibia's overall SACU income. Increased fish production and mining of zinc, copper, and uranium spurred growth in 2003-08, but growth in recent years was undercut by poor fish catches, a dramatic decline in demand for diamonds, higher costs of producing metals, and the global recession. A rebound in diamond and uranium prices in 2010 and the reopening of copper mines in 2011 provided a significant boost to Namibia's mining sector.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $15.5 billion (global rank: 137)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $7,300 (global rank: 129)
  • real growth rate: 3.6% (global rank: 112)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 7.1%, industry: 34..4%, services: 58.5%

Currency:

  • currency: Namibian Dollar (NAD)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 7.076

Unemployment Rate

  • unemployment rate: 51.2%

Agricultural Products:

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

Industries:

  • 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

Geography

Location:

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

Area:

  • 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

Climate:

  • desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic

Land Use:

  • arable land: 0.99%
  • permanent crops: 0.01%
  • other: 99%

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; managed dispute with South Africa over the location of the boundary in 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
  • refugees (country of origin): 4,700 (Angola)

For more info please contact:
African Studies
(310) 825-3686
africa@international.ucla.edu

African Studies Center