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South Africa occupied the German colony of South-West Africa 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. Namibia won its independence in 1990 and has been governed by SWAPO since. Hifikepunye POHAMBA was elected president in November 2004 in a landslide victory replacing Sam NUJOMA who led the country during its first 14 years of self rule.
Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and South Africa
Geographic coordinates:
22 00 S, 17 00 E
Map references:
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: 3,936 km
border countries: Angola 1,376 km, Botswana 1,360 km, South Africa 967 km, Zambia 233 km
1,572 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic
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, hydropower, fish
note: suspected deposits of oil, coal, and iron ore
Land use:
arable land: 0.99%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 99.01% (2001)
Irrigated land:
70 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
prolonged periods of drought
Environment - current issues:
very limited natural fresh water resources; desertification; wildlife poaching; land degradation has led to few conservation areas
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution; some 14% of the land is protected, including virtually the entire Namib Desert coastal strip
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 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 38.7% (male 396,247/female 389,543)
15-64 years: 57.7% (male 586,900/female 584,779)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 33,524/female 39,699) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.79 years
male: 19.63 years
female: 19.94 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.73% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
25.16 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
18.36 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
0.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 48.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 44.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 43.93 years
male: 44.71 years
female: 43.13 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.18 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
21.3% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
210,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
16,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2004)
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%
Christian 80% to 90% (Lutheran 50% at least), indigenous beliefs 10% to 20%
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: 84%
male: 84.4%
female: 83.7% (2003 est.)
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Namibia
conventional short form: Namibia
former: German Southwest Africa, South-West Africa
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
13 regions; Caprivi, Erongo, Hardap, Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Ohangwena, Okavango, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa
21 March 1990 (from South African mandate)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 21 March (1990)
ratified 9 February 1990; effective 12 March 1990
Legal system:
based on Roman-Dutch law and 1990 constitution
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Hifikepunye POHAMBA (since 15 November 2004)
head of government: Prime Minister Nahas ANGULA (since 21 March 2005)
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 15 November 2004 (next to be held November 2009)
election results: Hifikepunye POHAMBA elected president; percent of vote - NA%
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 15-16 November 2004 (next to be held November 2009); National Assembly - last held 15-16 November 2004 (next to be held November 2009)
election results: National Council - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - SWAPO 55, COD 5, DTA 4, UDF 3, MAG 1, other 4
note: the National Council is primarily an advisory body
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission)
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 Shafishuna NUJOMA]; United Democratic Front or UDF [Justus GAROEB]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
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 Joyce BARR
embassy: Ausplan Building, 14 Lossen Street, Windhoek
mailing address: Private Bag 12029 Ausspannplatz, Windhoek
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. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa, the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium, and the producer of large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. The mining sector employs only about 3% of the population while about half of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for its livelihood. Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years food shortages are a major problem in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides the great inequality of income distribution; nearly one-third of Namibians had annual incomes of less than $1,400 in constant 1994 dollars, according to a 1993 study. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged to the South African rand. Privatization of several enterprises in coming years may stimulate long-run foreign investment. Mining of zinc, copper, and silver and increased fish production led growth in 2003-04.
purchasing power parity - $14.76 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.8% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,300 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11.3%
industry: 30.8%
services: 57.9% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
840,000 (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 47%, industry 20%, services 33% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
35% (1998)
Population below poverty line:
50% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
70 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.2% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
19.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
revenues: $1.788 billion
expenditures: $1.956 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)
Public debt:
38.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
millet, sorghum, peanuts; livestock; fish
meatpacking, fish processing, dairy products; mining (diamond, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten, uranium, copper)
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
1.167 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
Electricity - consumption:
1.92 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
65 million kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
900 million kWh; note - electricity supplied by South Africa (2002)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
13,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
31.15 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
$234.3 million (2004 est.)
$1.356 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, copper, gold, zinc, lead, uranium; cattle, processed fish, karakul skins
Exports - partners:
EU 79%, US 4% (2001)
$1.473 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs; petroleum products and fuel, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partners:
US 50%, EU 31% (2001)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$360 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.136 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
ODA $160 million (2000 est.)
Currency (code):
Namibian dollar (NAD); South African rand (ZAR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Namibian dollars per US dollar - 6.4597 (2004), 7.5648 (2003), 10.5407 (2002), 8.6092 (2001), 6.9398 (2000)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Telephones - main lines in use:
127,400 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
223,700 (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: good system; about 6 telephones for each 100 persons
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: country code - 264; 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 (2002)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 39, shortwave 4 (2001)
232,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
8 (plus about 20 low-power repeaters) (1997)
60,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
3,164 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
65,000 (2003)
total: 2,382 km
narrow gauge: 2,382 km 1.067-m gauge (2004)
total: 42,237 km
paved: 5,406 km
unpaved: 36,831 km (2002)
Ports and harbors:
Luderitz, Walvis Bay
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) 2,265 GRT/3,605 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2005)
136 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 21
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 115
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 71
under 914 m: 20 (2004 est.)
Military branches:
Namibian Defense Force: Army (includes Air Wing), Navy, Police
Military manpower - military age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2001)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 18-49: 441,293 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 217,118 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$168.4 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.1% (2004)
Transnational IssuesNamibia 
Disputes - international:
border commission has yet to resolve small residual disputes with Botswana along the Caprivi Strip, including the Situngu marshlands along the Linyanti River; Botswana residents protest Namibia's planned construction of the Okavango hydroelectric dam on Popa Falls; managed dispute with South Africa over the location of the boundary in the Orange River; Namibia has supported and in 2004 Zimbabwe dropped objections to plans between Botswana and Zambia to build a bridge over the Zambezi River, thereby de facto recognizing a short, but not clearly delimited Botswana-Zambia, boundary in the river

This page was last updated on 9 August, 2005