Namibia, a large and sparsely populated country on the southwest coast of Africa, has enjoyed stability since gaining independence in 1990 after a long struggle against South African rule.
Germany took control of the area it called South West Africa in the late 1800s.
The discovery of diamonds in 1908 caused an influx of Europeans.
South Africa seized it during World War I and administered it under a mandate from the League of Nations.
Namibia gained independence in 1990 after nearly 25 years of bush war. Interracial reconciliation encouraged the country’s whites to stay, and they still play important roles in agriculture and other economic sectors.
Area: 825,615 square kilometers
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)
Chairman: Hage Geingob
Hage Geingob was elected President in the November 2014 elections while Prime Minister. He was re-elected in 2019.
He succeeded Hifikepunye Pohamba, who resigned at the end of the two terms allowed by the constitution.
Dr. Born in 1941, Geingob chaired the Constituent Assembly that drafted the constitution that came into effect with Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990.
He was the first Prime Minister of independent Namibia. 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, after serving 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 studies in economics in the United States, Ms. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila returned to Namibia and briefly worked in the office of Founder President Sam Nujoma, who quickly promoted her to head of the National Planning Commission.
She then served as Finance Minister from 2003 until her promotion to Prime Minister by President Geingob.
Namibia is one of the more media-friendly countries in Africa.
Broadcasters and the private press pay attention to the opposition, including criticism of the government.
Some important dates in the history of Namibia:
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 the Cape Colony cross the Orange River and move into southern Namibia.
1878 – The British colony of the Cape of Good Hope annexes the harbor of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Island, which in 1910 become part of the new Union of South Africa.
1886-90 – Current international borders established by German treaties with Portugal and Great Britain. Germany annexes the area as South West Africa.
1904-1907 – the Herero and Nama resisted German colonialism. German troops brutally crush the uprising, systematically killing 10,000 Nama and some 65,000 Herero – in what is now recognized as genocide.
1915 – South Africa takes over territory during World War I.
1920 – League of Nations grants South Africa a mandate to govern South West Africa (SWA).
1946 – South Africa refuses to place SWA under UN trusteeship.
1958 – Herman Toivo Ya Toivo and others found the opposition Ovamboland People’s Congress, which became the South West Africa People’s Organization (Swapo) in 1960.
1961 – The UN General Assembly demands that South Africa end its mandate and sets the goal of the independence of the SWA.
1966 – South West African People’s Organization (Swapo) starts armed struggle against the South African occupation.
1968 – South West Africa officially renamed Namibia by the UN General Assembly.
1973 – The UN General Assembly recognizes Swapo as the “sole legitimate representative” of the people of Namibia.
70s – Namibia became one of the hotbeds of Cold War proxy conflicts in southern Africa. The USSR and Cuba are sending military support to Swapo’s armed wing, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).
1988 – Increasing war fatigue and decreasing tensions between the great powers are forcing South Africa, Angola and Cuba to sign the Tripartite Agreement. South Africa agrees to Namibia’s independence in exchange for the removal of Cuban troops from Angola.
1990 – Namibia becomes independent, with Sam Nujoma as its first president.
1994 – South African exclave of Walvis Bay transferred to Namibia.
1999 – The government rejects a secession attempt in the northeastern Caprivi Strip by the insurgent Caprivi Liberation Army.
2004 – Germany formally apologizes for mass murders in the colonial era.
2005 – Namibia begins expropriating white-owned farms as part of a land reform program 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 revenues could transform Namibia’s economy.