Namibia Regional Info
As the ancient sands of the Namib Desert are shifted by the whistling winds, the landscape undulates and moves along. Herds of antelope kick up dust as they roam the plains to the north for grazing and water. Elephants traverse the dry riverbeds to the west while the eerie coasts lays in fog.
This is Namibia, a wildly beautiful land with a diversity in every element that makes up its existence. The rich earthly colors mix with the traditions and ways of its indigenous children while the diamond night skies seem to make dreams come true. The bushmen used to call this country "The Land God Made In Anger" but you will soon discover that it is more the Land God Made For Himself. Rediscover yourself amidst the ancient lands as the winds carry the song of Africa.
Although the country is not as established as some of its African neighbours, Namibia is a gem for those in search of the wilderness. Namibia is a large and sparsely populated country on Africa's southern west coast, which has enjoyed more than a decade of stability since achieving Independence on 21 March 1990.
Namibia offers abundant diversity in terms of landscapes, cultures, wildlife and activities, all in one country. Although roughly the size of Great Britain, Namibia is sparsely populated. The approximate total population of 2,2 million relates to a ratio of about 2,43 per km². This can be attributed to large parts of the landscape diverging in the oldest desert in the world, the Namib, as well as the northern reaches that creates some of the most inhospitable environments on the planet. Dry river beds, rich geological hills and incredible vistas make for an amazing sight. To the north eastern areas the land is heavy with the weight of water. Twisting river systems and lush wetlands are home to a treasure chest of wildlife and flora species. The beauty that is Namibia can be indescribable at times and captures the imagination as to the ways before time when man lived as one with nature. Other gems include the hauntingly beautiful vastness of the Skeleton Coast famed for claiming ships as trophies, the Etosha National Park with its abundance of wildlife including elephants and black rhino, the riveting colors of the Namib Desert painted in hues of red and gold, the deep chasms of the geologically rich Fish River Canyon and the sprawling beauty of the Caprivi regions, Namibia’s enthralling ambience knows no boundaries. It offers something for everyone in terms of activities, from adrenalin pumping skydiving, hiking trails toward endless horizons and a champagne boat cruise on the undulating Atlantic ocean.
Surface Area 824,292 sq km (318,261 sq miles).
Population 2.2 million (UN estimate 2010).
Population Density 2.43 per sq km. Capital City Windhoek.
Economy Statistics GDP: US$7.5 billion (2008).
Main exports: Minerals, beef, cattle and fish.
Main imports: Foodstuffs, construction material and manufactured goods.
Main trading partners: South Africa, UK, Spain, Japan and USA
Since its independence in 1990 Namibia’s economy has grown enormously with contributions from mining, tourism, agriculture and fishing being the biggest. Tourism is the fastest growing sector and employs a large part of the Namibian workforce. Namibia’s rich natural resources are grand and vast and make for memories that will last a lifetime. The political stance is fairly stable thus adding to its appeal. With its strong convictions on conservation and the protection o fits natural resources, large parts of the country fall under community owned concessions that take part in sustainable tourism activities. Namibia also has a proclaimed free trade zone at its seaport of Walvis Bay, famed for being the best deep water port along the entire African coastline, and exports mainly raw materials such as beef, minerals, diamonds and uranium.
Extracted minerals include silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, uranium, magnesium, cadmium, arsenic, pyrites, gold, lithium minerals and dimension stones. Namibia is the fourth largest supplier of uranium with the Rössing mine just outside of Swakopmund being the largest open pit mine in the country. Semi-precious stones such as agate, amethyst, tourmaline, rose quartz, aquamarine, garnet, chrysolla, chalcedony and dioptase are also extracted. Namibia gained world renown when diamonds were discovered in 1908. Since then, Namibia has become the source of the world’s highest-quality natural gem diamonds, which are the largest earner of foreign exchange. Despite being a medium-sized producer of these diamonds, Namibia averages the highest carat value in the world. Namdeb Diamond Corporation is involved in onshore and offshore mining operations and recovery plants and has satellite mines at Elizabeth Bay and Auchas in the southern reaches of the country. This development gave rise to the construction of one of the largest desalination plants in the world. Located on the coast just north of Swakopmund it will supply fresh water to the increased demand caused by the multiple uranium mines inland.
Namibia is one of the only countries in the world that has conservation as part of its constitution, its fishing industry is no exception. Due to the cold Benguela Current supplying an influx of plankton and algae, the Namibian coastline hosts some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. Commercial species include but are not limited to hake, kingklip, monk, pilchard, anchovy, tuna, and snoek. Rock lobster, mussels and oysters are also plentiful. For this reason Namibia employs strict rules and regulations with regards to fishing quotas. Fishing from the shores, even if just for recreation, are strictly monitored to ensure the effective harvesting of its abundant resource. In recent years aquaculture has also emerged as a source of fish products although this is still done on a fairly small scale.
Agriculture plays a very big role in the Namibian economy with most of the rural populations engaged in subsistence farming activities. Namibia exports some of the finest beef and game products and are very strict with regards to artificial hormones and additives. Approximately 32,000 tons of beef is exported annually of which a large portion goes to the European Nations. Mahangu (pearl millet), wheat, maize, beans, cotton and groundnuts are the major crop products cultivated. Namibia also exports dates, grapes and lucerne on a smaller scale. Wild plants such as Hoodia and Devil’s Claw are also cultivated and exported for their medicinal uses in the health and cosmetic industry.
Although Namibia imports a large portion of its electricity needs the country has a wide variety of natural energy sources in the form of natural gas, wind, sun and biomass. The Ruacana Hydroelectric Plant on the banks of the Kunene River harvests energy under the flagship of NamPower with new prospects and projects currently underway. Talks of building a nuclear power station have also surfaced in recent years, despite nothing conclusive decided yet it remains an option on the table for future developments. The Kudu Gas Field sprawls just outside of Oranjemund in Namibia’s far south. Although it was discovered in 1973 development of the area only commenced in 2003.
In many eyes Africa has always been a wild and untamed continent, beautiful yet dangerous. South Africa as the southern most tip was the hub of developments and colonialism spread from there to the interior parts of the mainland. Big game hunters moved deeper into wild territories to seek the abundant herds while settlers seeked to find a Utopia amidst the vast lands. Although the Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot on the coasts of Namibia in the 15th century it was the Germans that first laid claim to the deserts and thorny savannahs in 1884. Tiny settlements emerged and grew as the richness of the lands were discovered, diamonds however would be the ultimate catalyst. In 1908 a worker picked up a peculiar stone on the sands of the desert, his supervisor would spread the word that would change the way the world viewed this seemingly waterless land. Soon after, with the outbreak of the First World War, South African troops fighting on the British side invaded South West Africa in order to prevent Germans from gaining a further foothold in Africa. In 1919 the area was declared a mandate to be ruled under the Union of South Africa. Tired of being ruled and oppressed by foreigners, the indigenous nations engaged in a war for independence under the flagship of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). The war would continue for many years. In 1971 the international communities stepped in with South Africa ordered to relinquish control over the territory, but to no avail. Finally bending under international pressures and the ongoing war South Africa agreed to release Namibia as a self governing body in 1988. Democratic elections were held under watchful eyes and Sam Nujoma was elected as Namibia’s first president. On 21 March 1990 Namibia was proclaimed an independent state and took its place among the countries of the world. Since then, Namibia has enjoyed relative peace and the economy continues to grow and prosper. The people that inhabit this beautiful land are warm and friendly and the vastness of the country allures many tourists and visitors each year.