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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 was soon named 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 won its independence in 1990 and has been governed by SWAPO since. 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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

22 00 S, 17 00 E


total: 825,418 sq km
land: 825,418 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 3,936 km
border countries: Angola 1,376 km, Botswana 1,360 km, South Africa 967 km, Zambia 233 km


1,572 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic


mostly high plateau; Namib Desert along coast; Kalahari Desert in east

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Konigstein 2,606 m

Natural resources:

diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, zinc, salt, hydropower, fish
note: suspected deposits of oil, coal, and iron ore

Land use:

arable land: 0.99%
permanent crops: 0.01%
other: 99% (2005)

Irrigated land:

80 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

prolonged periods of drought

Environment - current issues:

very limited natural fresh water resources; desertification; wildlife poaching; land degradation has led to few conservation areas

Geography - note:

first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution; some 14% of the land is protected, including virtually the entire Namib Desert coastal strip


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 38.2% (male 393,878/female 387,147)
15-64 years: 58.1% (male 596,557/female 591,350)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 34,245/female 40,970) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 20 years
male: 19.8 years
female: 20.1 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.59% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

24.32 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

18.86 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 48.1 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 44.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 43.39 years
male: 44.46 years
female: 42.29 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.06 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

21.3% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

210,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

16,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2005)


noun: Namibian(s)
adjective: Namibian

Ethnic groups:

black 87.5%, white 6%, mixed 6.5%
note: about 50% of the population belong to the Ovambo tribe and 9% to the Kavangos tribe; other ethnic groups includes Herero 7%, Damara 7%, Nama 5%, Caprivian 4%, Bushmen 3%, Baster 2%, Tswana 0.5%


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


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


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84%
male: 84.4%
female: 83.7% (2003 est.)

Country name:

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

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

13 regions; Caprivi, Erongo, Hardap, Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Ohangwena, Okavango, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa


21 March 1990 (from South African mandate)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 21 March (1990)


ratified 9 February 1990, effective 12 March 1990

Legal system:

based on Roman-Dutch law and 1990 constitution


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral legislature consists of the National Council (26 seats; 2 members are chosen from each regional council to serve six-year terms) and the National Assembly (72 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: National Council - elections for regional councils, to determine members of the National Council, held 29-30 November 2004 (next to be held November 2010); National Assembly - last held 15-16 November 2004 (next to be held November 2009)
election results: National Council - percent of vote by party - SWAPO 89.7%, UDF 4.7%, NUDO 2.8%, DTA 1.9%; seats by party - SWAPO 24, UDF 1, DTA 1; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - SWAPO 75.1%, COD 7.2%, DTA 5%, NUDO 4.1%, UDF 3.5%, RP 1.9%, MAG 0.8%; seats by party - SWAPO 55, COD 5, DTA 4, NUDO 3, UDF 3, RP 1, MAG 1
note: the National Council is primarily an advisory body

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission)

Economy - overview:

The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 20% of GDP. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa, the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium, and the producer of large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. The mining sector employs only about 3% of the population while about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood. 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 the world's worst inequality of income distribution. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Privatization of several enterprises in coming years may stimulate long-run foreign investment. Increased fish production and mining of zinc, copper, uranium, and silver spurred growth in 2003-05.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$16.58 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$4.952 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4.2% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$8,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 9.3%
industry: 27.8%
services: 62.9% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

820,000 (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 47%
industry: 20%
services: 33% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate:

35% (1998)

Population below poverty line:

the UNDP's 2005 Human Development Report indicated that 34.9% of the population live on $1 per day and 55.8% live on $2 per day

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

70.7 (2003)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.7% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

21.2% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.945 billion
expenditures: $2.039 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

39.6% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

millet, sorghum, peanuts, grapes; livestock; fish


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

Electricity - production:

1.464 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

2.372 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

55 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

1.065 billion kWh; note - electricity supplied by South Africa (2003)

Oil - consumption:

16,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

62.3 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

$579 million (2005 est.)


$2.04 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

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

Exports - partners:

South Africa 33.4%, US 4% (2004)


$2.35 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

South Africa 85.2%, US (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$365 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.164 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

ODA, $160 million (2000 est.)

Currency (code):

Namibian dollar (NAD); South African rand (ZAR)

Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March

Telephones - main lines in use:

127,900 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

286,100 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: good system; about 6 telephones for each 100 persons
domestic: good urban services; fair rural service; microwave radio relay links major towns; connections to other populated places are by open wire; 100% digital
international: country code - 264; fiber-optic cable to South Africa, microwave radio relay link to Botswana, direct links to other neighboring countries; connected to Africa ONE and South African Far East (SAFE) submarine cables through South Africa; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat (2002)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 2, FM 39, shortwave 4 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:

8 (plus about 20 low-power repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

3,273 (2005)

Internet users:

75,000 (2005)


136 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 21
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 115
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 71
under 914 m: 20 (2005)


total: 2,382 km
narrow gauge: 2,382 km 1.067-m gauge (2004)


total: 42,237 km
paved: 5,406 km
unpaved: 36,831 km (2002)

Merchant marine:

total: 1 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,265 GRT/3,605 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Luderitz, Walvis Bay

Military branches:

Namibian Defense Force: Army (includes Air Wing), Navy, Police

Disputes - international:

border commission has yet to resolve small residual disputes with Botswana along the Caprivi Strip, including the Situngu marshlands along the Linyanti River; Botswana residents protest Namibia's planned construction of the Okavango hydroelectric dam on Popa Falls; 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 and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 12,618 (Angola) (2005)