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Namibia: The sparsely populated desert land

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th August 2007 03:00 AM

NAMIBIA , a large, dry and sparsely populated country on Africa’s south-west coast, enjoyed more than a decade of stability under its founding president Sam Nujoma.

NAMIBIA , a large, dry and sparsely populated country on Africa’s south-west coast, enjoyed more than a decade of stability under its founding president Sam Nujoma.

NAMIBIA , a large, dry and sparsely populated country on Africa’s south-west coast, enjoyed more than a decade of stability under its founding president Sam Nujoma.

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 World War I and administered it under a League of Nations mandate.

Germany has apologised to Namibia for the colonial-era killings of members of the Herero ethnic group. Their descendants have asked Berlin for financial compensation.

In 1966, the Marxist South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) guerrillas launched a war for independence. It was not until 1988, that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Namibia won its independence in 1990 and has been governed by SWAPO since.

Inter-racial reconciliation encouraged the country’s white people to stay and they still play a major role in farming and other economic sectors. However, supporters of land reform have become vocal. The expropriation of white-owned farms began in 2005 and the government says it aims to resettle many thousands of landless citizens.

Like its neighbours, Namibia’s well-being is being threatened by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is estimated to affect 25% of Namibians. Nujoma made the fight against the disease a national priority.

In the late 1990s, secessionist troubles in the Caprivi Strip in eastern Namibia, prompted thousands to flee to Botswana. In 2002, the government declared the area safe.

Hifikepunye Pohamba, representing SWAPO, was elected president in November 2004 in a landslide victory replacing Nujoma.

Pohamba, who was inaugurated in March 2005, said he would pursue proposed land reforms. He has warned of a possible “revolution” should white farmers not agree to sell land to the government.

Nujoma still leads the party. Namibia is bordered by the South Atlantic Ocean on the west, Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south. The Caprivi Strip, a narrow extension of land in the extreme north-east, connects it to Zambia.

The official language is English, first or second language to only about 20%. Oshivambo is spoken throughout most of the north. The Caprivians speak Lozi as their main language. Afrikaans is widely spoken and is the traditional language of the Cape Coloureds and Baster communities. Other languages include Herero, Nama and German.

A good number of Namibia’s 2,055,080 population lives in the capital, Windhoek.

Compiled by
Elizabeth Agiro

Namibia: The sparsely populated desert land

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