Namibia, formally the Republic of Namibia, is a republic in southern Africa with the Atlantic Ocean as its western boundary. It is bordered to the north by Zambia and Angola, to the east by Botswana, and to the south and east by South Africa. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, it is separated from that nation by less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River (basically a tiny bulge in Botswana to establish a Botswana/Zambia micro-border). Following the Namibian War of Independence, Namibia won independence from South Africa on March 21, 1990. Windhoek serves as the country’s capital and largest city, and it is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The San, Damara, and Nama peoples have lived in Namibia’s arid plains since ancient times. Immigranting Bantu peoples arrived in the 14th century as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu groups collectively known as the Ovambo people have dominated the country’s population, constituting a substantial majority since the late nineteenth century.
During European colonization in the late nineteenth century, the German Empire imposed protectorate authority over much of the area in 1884. It started developing infrastructure and agricultural and kept this German colony going until 1915, when South African forces destroyed its soldiers. Following the end of World War I, the League of Nations assigned the country to the United Kingdom, with South Africa in charge of administration. It enacted its laws, which included racial classifications and restrictions. With the National Party voted to power in 1948, South Africa implemented apartheid in what was known as South West Africa. The Cape Colony seized the port of Walvis Bay and the outlying Penguin Islands in 1878; they became a member of the new Union of South Africa when it was formed in 1910.
Uprisings and demands for political representation by local African political activists seeking independence in the late twentieth century culminated in the UN acquiring direct responsibility for the area in 1966, although South Africa retained de facto authority. The South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) was recognized by the UN in 1973 as the official representation of the Namibian people; the party is led by the Ovambo, who form a substantial majority in the region. In 1985, South Africa created an interim administration in Namibia as a result of ongoing guerrilla conflict. In 1990, Namibia gained complete independence from South Africa. However, South Africa retained sovereignty of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands until 1994.
Namibia has a 2.1 million-person population and a robust multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism, and the mining sector – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals – are the foundation of the country’s economy. Because of the vast, dry Namib Desert, Namibia is one of the world’s least densely inhabited countries. Namibia has a high level of political, economic, and social stability.