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Namibia Country Profile

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.

Namibia 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

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

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.


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.


Some key dates in Namibia’s history:

Namibia has been inhabited since prehistoric times by the San, Damara, and Nama.

14th Century AD – Bantu people begin to arrive during the Bantu expansion from central Africa.

18th Century – Oorlam people from Cape Colony cross the Orange River and move into southern Namibia.

1878 – The British colony of the Cape of Good Hope annexes the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Island, which become part of the new Union of South Africa in 1910.

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.

1970s – Namibia became one of several flashpoints for Cold War proxy conflicts in southern Africa. The USSR and Cuba send military support to Swapo’s armed wing, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).

1988 – Growing war weariness and the reduction of tensions between the superpowers compels South Africa, Angola and Cuba to accede to the Tripartite Accord. 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.

1999 – Government quashes a secessionist attempt in the northeast Caprivi Strip by the rebel Caprivi Liberation Army.

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 to resettle landless black Namibians.

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

Source : BBC