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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT NAMIBIA

Namibia is a magical country of spectacular landscapes and abundant wildlife. The stark Namibian desert, with its massive red sand dunes and wide open spaces is possibly the oldest in the world. The acacia savannah and rugged mountains of the central plateau end in the majestic Fish River Canyon to the south. In the north of Namibia, dense vegetation gives way to the great open plains of Etosha Pan. Traces of fossilised dinosaurs, prehistoric rock paintings and the ancient Welwitschia mirabilis, all bear witness to the impression that time has had no impact on Namibia

The Namibian People

According to the latest census in 2001, Namibia has a population of 1,826 000 inhabitants. The population density is one of lowest in the world with 2 people per km².

The Ovambos are the most numerous group in Namibia and are active in many economic sectors including farming, clothing manufacturing, basket work, pottery and wood sculpture. The Kavango people live along the northern border of Namibia. They survive mainly from fishing, livestock farming and the cultivation of sorghum, millet and maize.

The caprivians live in the north eastern corner of Namibia. Apart from hunting and fishing, they are subsistence farmers. The Hereroes are a pastoral people, whose women are easily distinguished by the colourful Victorian style clothing.

The Himba are an ancient semi-nomadic pastoral tribe living in scattered settlements in the Northern Kunene region of Namibia. The women are noted for their finely sculpted features, intricate hairstyles, traditional adornments and bodies smeared with an ochre coloured mud. The Damaras are one of the oldest ethnic groups in Namibia and are essentially a farming community.

The Nama are the direct descendants of the khoikhoi and display a natural talent for music and poetry.
The Basters moved to Namibia from the Cape in 1868 settling around the thermal springs of Rehoboth. They are traditionally a farming people although in recent years have diversified into other sectors, especially construction.

The Namibian coloured community originate from the Cape and live mainly in the larger towns of Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Lüderitz, Kalkveld and Karasburg. The Tswana are the smallest cultural group in Namibia.

The Bushmen or San, live in the most remote areas of eastern Namibia and the Kalahari. These hunter-gatherers are master raconteurs, gifted in music and dance.

Nearly 100 000 white Namibians are largely concentrated in the urban areas of south and central Namibia. They are involved in commerce, industry, agriculture, professional services and public administration.

Climate in Namibia
Summer (October to April) – The interior experiences average temperatures ranging from 20C to 34C during the day. In the far north, temperatures can reach over 40C

Influenced by the cold Benguela current, the coast enjoys a cooler climate of 15C to 25 C with less temperature variance. Thick mist is normal at night. This is the rainy season with the average rainfall varying from 50 mm on the coast to 350 mm inland reaching 700mm in the Caprivi. Rain is intermittent.

Winter (May to September) Temperatures in the interior vary from 18C to 25C during the day dropping significantly at night, often reaching 0C with frost..

Politics and History
Bismarck proclaimed Namibia a German protectorate in 1884. During the First World War, South African forces invaded Namibia which consequently fell under South African administration according to a League of Nations mandate in 1920. In 1966, war broke out between the South African occupational forces and the SWAPO liberation organization. In 1989, after the first democratic elections, SWAPO, won the majority and Dr Sam Nujoma was elected first president of the country.

Namibia is governed by a Multiparty parliament and has a democratic Constitution that is well regarded by the international community. The cabinet is chosen by the president from amongs the members of the National Assembly.

The Namibian Economy
The economy is largely dependant on the extraction and processing of minerals destined for export. The mining sector contributes 20% of the GDP. Namiba is the fourth largest exporter of non combustible minerals in Africa and the fifth producer of uranium in the world. Rich deposits of alluvial diamonds make Namibia one of the principal sources of quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, silver, tungsten and tin. Approximately half the population relies on agriculture (mostly subsistence farming) as their livelihood. The Namibian economy is closely tied to that of South Africa. Fishing, tourism and agriculture are other important economic sectors.

Infrastructure
Namibia has 5450 kilometres of tarred road and 37 000 km of gravel road. It is well equipped for self drive vacations.

Entry formalities
Visitors need a passport valid for 6 months after the date of entry. Contact your travel agency of nearest embassy to obtain the latest information.

Money and Banking
The Namibian Dollar and the South African rand are the only currencies accepted for trading. Travellers cheques, USD, Euros and other major currencies can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change during normal trading hours. (Mon-Fri 09.00 to 15.30 and Sat 9.00 to 11.00. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted and there are no currency controls. NB – Credit cards are not accepted to pay for petrol.

Taxes
Visitors can claim back 15% VAT on departure from the International airport in Windhoek.

Fauna and Flora
Flora : The country is divided into 14 vegetation zones which vary from desert and semi-desert regions, to savannah and bushveld, to woodland in the northeast. Of interest to any botanist is the plant Welwitschia Mirabilis, a living fossil endemic to the Namib desert and one of the most ancient plants known to man. About 120 tree species are found in Namibia. 200 endemic plant species occur in Namibia including the halfmens (half man) so named because of its humanlike form, and lithops, commonly known as “stones in flower”.

Wildlife: Namibia is a haven for all the large African mammals, including elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, buffalo, lion, leopard and cheetah. 8 mammal species are endemic to Namibia – the black faced impala and several gerbils and bats. The country shelters several endangered species such as the desert black rhino, and the wild dog along with 20 species of antelopes ranging from the largest, the eland to the smallest, the damara dik-dik.

Bird Watching : Around 630 of the 887 species recording in Southern Africa are found in Namibia. 11 species are endemic including the herero chat, the damara rockrunner and the damara tern.

 

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