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Background: South Africa occupied the German colony of Sud-West Afrika during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II when it annexed the territory. In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that was soon named Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Independence came in 1990.


Location: Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and South Africa

Geographic coordinates: 22 00 S, 17 00 E

Map references: Africa

  total: 825,418 sq km
  land: 825,418 sq km
  water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly more than half the size of Alaska

Land boundaries
  total: 3,824 km
  border countries: Angola 1,376 km, Botswana 1,360 km, South Africa 855 km, Zambia 233 km

Coastline: 1,572 km

Maritime claims
  contiguous zone: 24 nm
  exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
  territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic

Terrain: mostly high plateau; Namib Desert along coast; Kalahari Desert in east

Elevation extremes
  lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
  highest point: Konigstein 2,606 m

Natural resources: diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, zinc, salt, vanadium, natural gas, hydropower, fish (Note: suspected deposits of oil, coal, and iron ore)

Land use
  arable land: 1%
  permanent crops: 0%
  permanent pastures: 46%
  forests and woodland: 22%
  other: 31% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 60 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: prolonged periods of drought

Environment - current issues: very limited natural fresh water resources; desertification

Environment - international agreements
  party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
  signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements


Population: 1,771,327 (Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.))

Age structure
  0-14 years: 43% (male 384,900; female 375,282)
  15-64 years: 53% (male 468,942; female 475,504)
  65 years and over: 4% (male 28,905; female 37,794) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.57% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 35.23 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 19.49 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
  total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 70.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 42.46 years
  male: 44.33 years
  female: 40.53 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.89 children born/woman (2000 est.)

  noun: Namibian(s)
  adjective: Namibian

Ethnic groups: black 87.5%, white 6%, mixed 6.5% (Note: about 50% of the population belong to the Ovambo tribe and 9% to the Kavangos tribe; other ethnic groups are: Herero 7%, Damara 7%, Nama 5%, Caprivian 4%, Bushmen 3%, Baster 2%, Tswana 0.5%)

Religions: Christian 80% to 90% (Lutheran 50% at least), indigenous beliefs 10% to 20%

Languages: English 7% (official), Afrikaans common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population, German 32%, indigenous languages: Oshivambo, Herero, Nama

  definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  total population: 38%
  male: 45%
  female: 31% (1960 est.)


Country name
  conventional long form: Republic of Namibia
  conventional short form: Namibia

Data code: WA

Government type: republic

Capital: Windhoek

Administrative divisions: 13 regions; Caprivi, Erongo, Hardap, Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Ohangwena, Okavango, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa

Independence: 21 March 1990 (from South African mandate)

National holiday: Independence Day, 21 March (1990)

Constitution: ratified 9 February 1990; effective 12 March 1990

Legal system: based on Roman-Dutch law and 1990 constitution

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: President Samuel NUJOMA (since 21 March 1990); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
  head of government: President Samuel NUJOMA (since 21 March 1990); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
  cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among the members of the National Assembly
  elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 30 November-1 December 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
  election results: Samuel NUJOMA elected president; percent of vote - Samuel NUJOMA 77%

Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of the National Council (26 seats; two members are chosen from each regional council to serve six-year terms) and the National Assembly (72 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
  elections: National Council - elections for regional councils, to determine members of the National Council, held 30 November-1 December 1998 (next to be held by December 2004); National Assembly - last held 30 November-1 December 1999 (next to be held by December 2004)
  election results: National Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - SWAPO 21, DTA 4, UDF 1; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - SWAPO 77%, COD 10%, DTA 9%, UDF 3%, MAG 1%; seats by party - SWAPO 55, COD 7, DTA 7, UDF 2, MAG 1, (Note: the National Council is a purely advisory body)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges appointed by the president

Political parties and leaders: Congress of Democrats or COD [Ben ULENGA]; Democratic Turnhalle Alliance of Namibia or DTA [Katuutire KAURA, president]; Monitor Action Group or MAG [Kosie PRETORIUS]; South West Africa People's Organization or SWAPO [Sam NUJOMA]; United Democratic Front or UDF [Justus GAROEB]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (subscriber), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, SACU, SADC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Leonard Nangolo IIPUMBU
  chancery: 1605 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
  telephone: [1] (202) 986-0540
  FAX: [1] (202) 986-0443

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Jeffrey A. BADER
  embassy: Ausplan Building, 14 Lossen Street, Private Bag 12029 Ausspannplatz, Windhoek
  mailing address: use embassy street address
  telephone: [264] (61) 221601
  FAX: [264] (61) 229792

Flag description: a large blue triangle with a yellow sunburst fills the upper left section and an equal green triangle (solid) fills the lower right section; the triangles are separated by a red stripe that is contrasted by two narrow white-edge borders


Economy - overview: The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 20% of GDP. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa and the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. Half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence agriculture) for its livelihood. Namibia must import some of its food. Although per capita GDP is four times the per capita GDP of Africa's poorer countries, the majority of Namibia's people live in pronounced poverty because of large-scale unemployment, the great inequality of income distribution, and the large amount of wealth going to foreigners. The Namibian economy has close links to South Africa. GDP growth should improve in 2000-01, because of gains in the diamond and fish sectors. Agreement has been reached on the privatization of several more enterprises in coming years, which should stimulate long-run foreign investment.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $7.1 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,300 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 12%
  industry: 30%
  services: 58% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.5% (1999)

Labor force: 500,000

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 47%, industry 25%, services 28% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: 30% to 40%, including underemployment (1997 est.)

  revenues: $883 million
  expenditures: $950 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998)

Industries: meat packing, fish processing, dairy products; mining (diamond, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten, uranium, copper)

Industrial production growth rate: 10% (1994)

Electricity - production: 1.198 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 2%
  hydro: 98%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1999)

Electricity - consumption: 1.81 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity - exports: 56 million kWh (1999)

Electricity - imports: 890 million kWh (1999) (Note: imports electricity from South Africa)

Agriculture - products: millet, sorghum, peanuts; livestock; fish

Exports: $1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Exports - commodities: diamonds, copper, gold, zinc, lead, uranium; cattle, processed fish, karakul skins

Exports - partners: UK 43%, South Africa 26%, Spain 14%, France 8%, Japan (1998 est.)

Imports: $1.5 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.)

Imports - commodities: foodstuffs; petroleum products and fuel, machinery and equipment, chemicals

Imports - partners: South Africa 84%, Germany, US, Japan (1995 est.)

Debt - external: $159 million (1999 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $127 million (1998)

Currency: 1 Namibian dollar (N$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: Namibian dollars (N$) per US$1 - 6.12439 (January 2000), 6.10948 (1999), 5.52828 (1998), 4.60796 (1997), 4.29935 (1996), 3.62709 (1995)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Telephones - main lines in use: 100,848 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 20,000 (1998)

Telephone system
  domestic: good urban services; fair rural service; microwave radio relay links major towns; connections to other populated places are by open wire; 100% digital
  international: fiber-optic cable to South Africa, microwave radio relay link to Botswana, direct links to other neighboring countries; connected to Africa ONE and South African Far East (SAFE) submarine cables through South Africa; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 34, shortwave 5 (1998)

Radios: 232,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 8 (plus about 20 low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 60,000 (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 4 (1999)


  total: 2,382 km
  narrow gauge: 2,382 km 1.067-m gauge; single track (1995)

  total: 63,258 km
  paved: 5,250 km
  unpaved: 58,008 km (1997 est.)

Ports and harbors: Luderitz, Walvis Bay

Merchant marine: none (1999 est.)

Airports: 135 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 22
  over 3,047 m: 2
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
  914 to 1,523 m: 3 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 113
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 21
  914 to 1,523 m: 69
  under 914 m: 21 (1999 est.)


Military branches: National Defense Force (Army), Police

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 416,529 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 248,581 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $90 million (FY97/98)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.6% (FY97/98)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: dispute with Botswana over uninhabited Kasikili (Sidudu) Island in Linyanti (Chobe) River resolved by the ICJ in favor of Botswana (13 December 1999); at least one other island in Linyanti River is contested


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