Namibia country profile

  • Published
Map of Namibia

Namibia, a large and sparsely populated country on Africa's south-west coast, has enjoyed stability since gaining independence in 1990 after a long struggle against rule by South Africa.

Germany took control of the area which it called South West Africa in the late 1800s.

The discovery of diamonds in 1908 prompted an influx of Europeans.

South Africa seized it during the First World War and administered it under a League of Nations mandate.

Namibians achieved independence in 1990 after a bush war of almost 25 years. Inter-racial reconciliation encouraged the country's white people to remain and they still play a major role in farming and other economic sectors.


  • Capital: Windhoek
  • Area: 825,615 sq km
  • Population: 2.5 million
  • Languages: English, Afrikaans, German, Otjiherero, Khoekhoegowab, Oshiwambo, RuKwangali, Setswana, siLozi, !Kung, Gciriku, Thimbukushu
  • Life expectancy: 59 years (men) 67 years (women)


President: Hage Geingob

Image source, Getty Images

Hage Geingob was voted in as president in the November 2014 elections while serving as prime minister. He was reelected in 2019.

He succeeded Hifikepunye Pohamba, who stepped down at the end of the two terms allowed by the constitution.

Dr Geingob, who was born in 1941, chaired the constituent assembly which drafted the constitution which came into effect with Namibian independence from South Africa in 1990.

He was independent Namibia's first prime minister. The president, who shares executive power with the cabinet, is limited to two five-year terms.

Prime minister: Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

Image source, Getty Images

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila was appointed prime minister in 2015, having served as finance minister for several years.

A longtime member of the ruling South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), she went into exile with the group to Sierra Leone at the age of 13.

After completing her economics degree in the United States, Ms Kuugongelwa-Amadhila returned to Namibia and worked briefly in the office of founding President Sam Nujoma, who quickly promoted her to head the National Planning Commission.

She then served as minister of finance from 2003 until her promotion to the position of prime minister by President Geingob.


Image caption,
Namibia has spectacular natural attractions, such as the dunes at Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft National Park

Namibia is one of the more media-friendly countries in Africa.

Broadcasters and the private press give coverage to the opposition, including views critical of the government.


Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The German occupation forces almost wiped out the entire Herero population

Some key dates in Namibia's history:

1886-90 - Present international boundaries established by German treaties with Portugal and Britain. Germany annexes the territory as South West Africa.

1886-90 - Present international boundaries established by German treaties with Portugal and Britain. Germany annexes the territory as South West Africa.

1904-1907 - the Herero and Nama resist German colonialism. German forces brutally supress the uprising and systematically kill 10,000 Nama and some 65,000 Herero - in what is now acknowledged as genocide.

1915 - South Africa takes over territory during World War One.

1920 - League of Nations grants South Africa mandate to govern South West Africa (SWA).

1946 - South Africa refuses to place SWA under UN trusteeship.

1958 - Herman Toivo Ya Toivo and others create the opposition Ovamboland People's Congress, which becomes the South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) in 1960.

1961 - UN General Assembly demands South Africa terminate the mandate and sets SWA's independence as an objective..

1966 - South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) launches armed struggle against South African occupation.

1968 - South West Africa officially renamed Namibia by UN General Assembly.

1973 - UN General Assembly recognises Swapo as "sole legitimate representative" of Namibia's people.

1988 - South Africa agrees to Namibian independence in exchange for removal of Cuban troops from Angola.

1990 - Namibia becomes independent, with Sam Nujoma as first president.

1994 - South African exclave of Walvis Bay turned over to Namibia.

2004 - Germany offers formal apology for its colonial-era mass-killings.

2005 - Namibia begins the expropriation of white-owned farms as part of a land-reform programme.

2022 - Estimates suggest that two exploration wells in the offshore Orange Basin could hold 2 and 3 billion barrels of oil, respectively. The expected revenue could transform Namibia's economy.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Independence celebrations: Namibia's president Sam Nujoma shakes hands with FW de Klerk of South Africa, which gave up rule over the country

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