The Republic of Namibia is located in South West Africa and, with an area of 824 292 km², is more than twice the size of Germany. In the west the country borders on the Atlantic Ocean, in the north on Angola, in the extreme northeast on Zambia (Caprivi-tipfel), in the east on Botswana and in the southeast and south on South Africa. The Namib Desert, which stretches along the Atlantic coast, gave the state its name.
The desert strip of the Namib is on the national territory of Namibia a lowland strip between 80 and 130 km wide, which is covered in its northern section predominantly with stone and boulders. In the central part, the dunes of Sand-Namib represent some of the highest dunes in the world. The southern section was given the name Wannennamib because of its formations. In the east, the desert is bounded by the steeply rising threshold that forms the transition to the central highlands. Namibia’s highest elevation, the Brandberg with 2 610 m, is one of the peaks of this threshold.
The central highlands lie on average at an altitude of 1 200 to 2 000 m above sea level. To the north lies Ovamboland, in the centre Damaraland, to the south Großnamaland. In the east Namibia shares in the Kalahari Basin, the largest part of which lies on the territory of neighbouring Botswana. The Kalahari Basin is a runoff-free highland with extensive sandy areas and salt pans (Etosha Pan).
The inland rivers only carry water after heavy rainfall, while the Kunene, Okawango, Zambezi and Linyanti rivers, which also mark national borders, carry water all year round. The capital Windhoek lies in the central inland.
About 2.03 million people live in Namibia, with an average of 2.5 inhabitants per square kilometre, the country is extremely sparsely populated. Slightly less than one third of the population lives in cities, the white population has a much higher degree of urbanization. By far the largest city is the capital Windhoek with about 235 000 inhabitants. Further cities are Swakopmund (about 25 000 inhabitants), Rehoboth (21 500) and Rundu (20 000).
The population is made up of different ethnic groups, the largest group being the Ovambo, who make up about half of the total population and whose ancestral territory (Ovamboland) is in northern Namibia. Other population groups are the Kavango (9%), Herero, Damara, Nama, Caprivians and San. White people make up about 6 % of the total population, mixed breed about 6.5 %. The official language in Namibia is English, in addition different Bantus languages, Afrikaans, the San language Khoekhoe and German are spoken. Protestants represent the largest religious community with over 60 %, about 20 % of the population are Catholics. Natural religions are often practiced, partly also in mixture with Christianity.
In Namibia there is a clear prosperity gap between black and white. The official unemployment rate is 35%. The social and health services are concentrated in the cities and are inadequate in rural areas. The average life expectancy is only 44 years. About 84% of Namibians can read and write; compulsory schooling is compulsory for 7 to 16 year olds. One fifth of the Namibian population is now infected with HIV. Population growth is therefore comparatively low at 1.3%.
Namibia is a presidential republic that has only been independent since 1990. According to the constitution of March 1990, the president (since March 2005 Hifikepunye Pohamba) is directly elected for five years (one-time re-election possible). He appoints the cabinet, which works under the leadership of the Prime Minister (since December 2012 Hage Geingob).
The legislative power lies with the Parliament, which consists of two chambers: The National Assembly has 72 seats, the deputies are elected by the people on the basis of proportional representation for a term of five years, six of the deputies are appointed by the President of the Republic and have no voting rights. The National Council has 26 members with a term of six years, two representing each of the 13 regions of the country. The country is divided into 13 regions.
Namibia belongs to the group of “upper middle income countries”. However, wealth is very unevenly distributed: About half of the population lives below the poverty line; unemployment is 27%.
An important area is agriculture, which is the livelihood of more than half of the population. Over 40% of the agricultural land is used by “commercial” farms for cattle farming (mainly cattle and sheep), while the rest is managed by subsistence farmers. Due to the climatic conditions, only about one percent of the country’s land is available for arable farming, with maize, cereals, sunflowers and peanuts being the main crops. Due to the cold Bengueal Current, the waters off the Namibian coast are rich in fish, and the fishing industry is regarded as a source of hope, despite the fact that fish stocks of economically important species, such as sardines and hake, have been reduced considerably in some cases. Agricultural goods (especially livestock, meat and skins) account for around 30% of exports.
The processing industry in Namibia is only moderately developed and concentrates on the processing of meat and fish and the production of food and beverages. Small and medium-sized enterprises predominate. About 15 % of the working population are employed here. An important economic sector is mining, the country has rich mineral resources. The main products are diamonds and uranium, where Namibia is one of the world’s largest producers. Other mining products are copper, silver, lead, tin, tungsten and vanadium. Diamonds alone account for one third of total export revenues.
The Namibian economy depends to a large extent on South Africa, but the country is now also engaged in active trade with the USA and the European Union. An important source of foreign exchange income in Namibia is tourism, which is showing an upward trend.
The road network covers a total of 66,500 km, of which about 5,000 km are paved. There are about 2,400 km of rail available. The country’s most important ports are Lüderitz and Walfischbai. The most important international airports are in Windhoek and the port city of Walvis Bay. The currency is the Namibian dollar, but the South African rand is more important for trade.