All about Namibia
Namibia officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN). The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Namibia, the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, was inhabited since early times by the San, Damara and Nama people. Around the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu groups, the largest being the Ovambo, have dominated the population of the country; since the late 19th century, they have constituted a majority.
In 1878, the Cape of Good Hope, then a British colony, annexed the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands. These became an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910. In 1884 the German Empire established rule over most of the territory. Thus forming a colony known as German South West Africa. It developed farming and infrastructure. Between 1904 and 1908 it perpetrated a genocide against the Herero and Nama people. German rule ended in 1915 with a defeat by South African forces. In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated the administration of the colony to South Africa. It imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules. From 1948, with the National Party elected to power. South Africa applied apartheid also to what was then known as South West Africa.
In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence. This resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule. In 1973 the UN recognised the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people; the party is dominated by the Aawambo, who are a large plurality in the territory. Following continued guerrilla warfare, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990. However, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.
Namibia has a population of 2.6 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry, including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals form the basis of its economy. The large, arid Namib Desert has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world.
Namibia is the world’s thirty-fourth largest country (after Venezuela). It lies mostly between latitudes 17° and 29°S (a small area is north of 17°), and longitudes 11° and 26°E.
Being situated between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts, Namibia has the least rainfall of any country in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Namibian landscape consists generally of five geographical areas, each with characteristic abiotic conditions and vegetation, with some variation within and overlap between them: the Central Plateau, the Namib, the Great Escarpment, the Bushveld, and the Kalahari Desert.
The Central Plateau runs from north to south, bordered by the Skeleton Coast to the northwest, the Namib Desert and its coastal plains to the southwest, the Orange River to the south, and the Kalahari Desert to the east. The Central Plateau is home to the highest point in Namibia at Königstein elevation 2,606 metres (8,550 ft).
The Namib is a broad expanse of hyper-arid gravel plains and dunes that stretches along Namibia’s entire coastline. It varies between 100 km (60 miles) and many hundreds in width. Areas within the Namib include the Skeleton Coast and the Kaokoveld in the north and the extensive Namib Sand Sea along the central coast.
The Great Escarpment swiftly rises to over 2,000 metres (7,000 ft). Average temperatures and temperature ranges increase further inland from the cold Atlantic waters, while the lingering coastal fogs slowly diminish. Although the area is rocky with poorly developed soils, it is significantly more productive than the Namib Desert. As summer winds are forced over the Escarpment, moisture is extracted as precipitation.
The Bushveld is found in north-eastern Namibia along the Angolan border and in the Caprivi Strip. The area receives a significantly greater amount of precipitation than the rest of the country, averaging around 400 mm (16 in) per year. The area is generally flat and the soils sandy, limiting their ability to retain water and support agriculture.
The Kalahari Desert, an arid region that extends into South Africa and Botswana, is one of Namibia’s well-known geographical features. The Kalahari, while popularly known as a desert, has a variety of localised environments, including some verdant and technically non-desert areas. The Succulent Karoo is home to over 5,000 species of plants, nearly half of them endemic; approximately 10 percent of the world’s succulents are found in the Karoo. The reason behind this high productivity and endemism may be the relatively stable nature of precipitation.
Namibia’s Coastal Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world. Its sand dunes, created by the strong onshore winds, are the highest in the world. Because of the location of the shoreline, at the point where the Atlantic’s cold water reaches Africa’s hot climate, often extremely dense fog forms along the coast. Near the coast there are areas where the dunes are vegetated with hammocks. Namibia has rich coastal and marine resources that remain largely unexplored.
Tourism is a major contributor (14.5%) to Namibia’s GDP, creating tens of thousands of jobs (18.2% of all employment) directly or indirectly and servicing over a million tourists per year. The country is a prime destination in Africa and is known for ecotourism, which features Namibia’s extensive wildlife.
There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. Sport and trophy hunting is also a large and growing component of the Namibian economy, accounting for 14% of total tourism in the year 2000, or 19.6 million US dollars, with Namibia boasting numerous species sought after by international sport hunters.
In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding, skydiving and 4x4ing have become popular, and many cities have companies that provide tours. The most visited places include the capital city of Windhoek, Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast Park, Sesriem, Etosha Pan and the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.
Windhoek plays a very important role in Namibia’s tourism due to its central location and close proximity to Hosea Kutako International Airport. According to The Namibia Tourism Exit Survey, which was produced by the Millennium Challenge Corporation for the Namibian Directorate of Tourism, 56% of all tourists visiting Namibia in 2012–13 visited Windhoek. Many of Namibia’s tourism related parastatals and governing bodies such as Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Air Namibia and the Namibia Tourism Board as well as Namibia’s tourism related trade associations such as the Hospitality Association of Namibia are headquartered in Windhoek. There are also a number of notable hotels in Windhoek, such as Windhoek Country Club Resort, and some international hotel chains, such as Avani Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels and Resorts.
Namibia’s primary tourism related governing body, the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), was established by an Act of Parliament: the Namibia Tourism Board Act, 2000 (Act 21 of 2000). Its primary objectives are to regulate the tourism industry and to market Namibia as a tourist destination. There are also a number of trade associations that represent the tourism sector in Namibia, such as the Federation of Namibia Tourism Associations (the umbrella body for all tourism associations in Namibia), the Hospitality Association of Namibia, the Association of Namibian Travel Agents, Car Rental Association of Namibia and the Tour and Safari Association of Namibia.
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