Namibia (officially Republic of Namibia) is a country in southern
Africa between Angola, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and the
Atlantic Ocean. A four-country corner in the northeast is just
missed, as the border with Zimbabwe is about 40 meters away.
The capital and largest city of Namibia is Windhoek. The country has been a member of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), the African Union (AU) and the Commonwealth of Nations since 1990 (Resolution 652).
The arid landscape was originally inhabited by the San ("Bushmen") and Damara peoples. From around the 14th century, Bantu migrated to the country as part of the Bantu migration. The area of present-day Namibia became a protectorate of the German Empire in 1884 and remained a German colony called Deutsch-Südwestafrika until the end of World War I. In the years 1904 to 1908, the German colonial power violently suppressed the Herero and Nama uprising and committed genocide in the process. In 1920 the League of Nations placed Namibia under a South African mandate - effectively a South African colony - which introduced its own laws, such as those on apartheid, into Namibia.
In the course of the Namibian liberation struggle on March 21, 1990, Namibia gained independence from South Africa – with the exception of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands, which were under South African control until 1994. March 21 has been the country's national holiday ever since.
Due to the large area of the Namib, Namibia is only sparsely populated. The country has about 2.3 million inhabitants. 18 percent of the population live below the Namibian poverty line (as of November 2016), compared to 28.7 percent in 2009. Namibia has a stable parliamentary democracy. The Namibian economy is strongly characterized by agriculture, tourism and mining (uranium, gold, silver and base metals).
Namibia lies between 17.87° and 29.98° south latitude and 12° and 25° east longitude in the tropics and subtropics.
Namibia is bordered by the Kalahari to the east towards Botswana, the Orange River to the south towards South Africa, the South Atlantic to the west and the Kunene and the Okavango to the north towards Angola. In the north-east there is also a finger of land about 450 km long and up to 50 km wide between the countries bordering Angola and Zambia to the north and Botswana to the south - the Caprivi Strip, which is bordered in the east by the Zambezi and the lower reaches of the Kwando.
In addition to the border rivers mentioned, there are numerous other rivers, none of which are guaranteed to have water all year round. Outside of the rainy season there are only dry riverbeds (Riviere).
The entire national territory of Namibia covers about 824,292 square kilometers. The landscape of Namibia is essentially characterized by two deserts, in the west by the Namib, which extends from the South African province of North Cape to Angola, and in the east by the Kalahari. Between the two deserts lies the inland highland, which has an average height of 1700 meters and around the capital Windhoek also exceeds the 2000 meter mark. One of the most striking mountains is the Etjo, but the highest mountain is the 2600 meter high Königstein in the Brandberg massif, near the coast, about 200 kilometers north of the coastal town of Swakopmund. In the east, the inland highlands gradually merge into the Kalahari highlands, which are about 1200 meters high and are covered by dry vegetation.
The area of today's Namibia is considered to be one of the oldest parts of the earth's crust. Long before the supercontinent Gondwana was formed, two shelves formed in what is now Africa more than two billion years ago: the Congo craton and the Kalahari craton. The latter includes large parts of present-day Namibia. About 550 million years ago, various tectonic processes created a huge, contiguous mainland area that included today's (partial) continents of Africa, South America, Australia, India and Antarctica: Gondwana.
About 150 million years ago, this supercontinent gradually began to break up and drift apart into the continents we know today. The special climatic conditions in South West Africa that lasted for millions of years meant that many geological structures, processes and phenomena were particularly well preserved and can therefore still be observed today. Ultimately, this also includes the Namib, which can therefore be considered the oldest desert in the world.
The average climate of Namibia is hot and dry. The largely arid
climate is subtropical continental. There are big differences between
the individual parts of the country:
Rainfall is extremely rare in the Namib west of the demolition zone. A warm, strong wind blows all year round. Even in winter, temperatures often reach 25°C and more. In the hottest summer months, December and January, temperatures are usually well above 30°C, while in the coldest months, July and August, they can drop to freezing point at night, but then rise again to around 25°C during the day. Temperature jumps of more than 20 °C within a few hours can be expected in the mornings and evenings, especially in winter. In the inland highlands, due to the high altitude, there can even be frost at night and, in very rare years, snowfall. During the day it is not quite as hot there as in the desert. The situation in the Kalahari is similar to that in the Namib. Precipitation is somewhat more frequent, but still rare, as is typical for deserts.
The area between the Namib and the Atlantic is one of the regions in the world with the best climate for astronomical observations. The astro camps set up there are therefore visited by many astronomers, especially for the purpose of sky photography.
The climate of the Atlantic coast, in turn, is determined by the cold Benguela Current. This cools down the prevailing south-west wind considerably, which prevents the formation of (rain) clouds as a result of condensation and regularly creates a dense persistent fog near the ground. In the summer it is pleasantly cool here and in the winter months it can sometimes be cold during the day. The water temperature rarely reaches more than 15 °C.
The Caprivi Strip, on the other hand, is characterized by mostly reliable precipitation in the rainy season. These have given rise to an extensive river system and a subtropical savannah forest. In contrast to the other parts of the country, the humidity here is relatively high.
In the central highlands, which cover most of Namibia, summer rains are prevalent, meaning irregular but occasionally very heavy rains can be expected between November and April; the extreme south, on the other hand, lies in the winter rain area, so that rain falls – if at all – mainly in the months of June and July. Despite the irregularity of rainfall in terms of frequency and yield, it increases significantly, starting from the south with less than 50 mm per year towards the north-east with up to 600 mm per year, which, however, does not rule out regional dry periods lasting several years.
Due to the special climatic conditions, agricultural use of the land is only possible to a limited extent: in the highlands mainly cattle breeding (in the north more cattle, in the south more sheep and goats), in the relatively rainy north also arable farming. A special feature of the Namib are the dunes in the Sossusvlei area. At well over 400 meters high, the star dunes are among the highest in the world. The attraction of this dune landscape is not only in its height, but above all in its play of colors, which depends on the moisture content and the position of the sun.