People, Language, History - A patchwork quilt of people and cultures
Hunter-gatherers, nomadic pastoralists and subsistence farmers clashed centuries ago over valuable water supply and land.
Germany claimed protection of the land in 1884, which led to a rapid infusion of German culture that has flourished since 1915 when the country was ceded to South Africa by a League of Nations mandate. An uprising in 1966 and protracted diplomatic negotiations finally freed the country from South Africa's administration in 1990. Walvis Bay was handed over in 1994.
In many respects Namibia is similar to South Africa. Not least of which is the abundance of goods that are imported and the interchangeable use of the Namibian dollar and the South African Rand. Yet closer inspection reveals a land so different from its erstwhile master and in fact from the rest of the world that it can only be called unique.
The major ethnic groups are the Ovamba, itself consisting of several smaller tribes; Herero, of which the Himba form a part; the Nama; the Damara; and Khoisan, known colloquially as Bushmen and, while very few, are the largest remaining population in Africa.
Afrikaans is the lingua franca. But it is fast becoming outmoded as young Namibians choose the official language of English as their second tongue.
More In Namibia
The 10 Best Places to Visit in Namibia
Namibia has some beautiful, unique and extraordinary scenery. Attractions abound and activities are limitless. But it's the whole journey that is the most extraordinary attraction of them all. Just driving through the country will be an experience quite unlike any you've had before. While parts of Namibia resemble other places - like the Kruger Park and Okavango Delta - no other place on Earth comes close to resembling Namibia.
After the world's oldest desert in the south, the Caprivi wetlands come as a bit of surprise. The finger of land that slices between Botswana and Zambia to touch Zimbabwe is a sub-tropical paradise of perennial rivers, sodden marshes and verdant woodlands at odds with the parched country to the west.
The Kaokoveld, a vast and empty wilderness occupying the north-western quarter of Namibia, is roughly divided in two by the Hoanib River. The north is known as Kaokoland and the south as Damaraland. Although these administrative divisions fell away after Namibian independence the colloquial demarcations have persisted.
The springs of Windhoek (pronounced VIN-took) attracted pastoralists long before time was measured with alarm clocks, breakfast runs and train schedules. But since 1840 random claims and several skirmishes for dominion over the precious water have culminated in a city with more facets than a flawless diamond.
The Skeleton Coast
The Skeleton Coast is a sliver of desert that spans the 1,500km from the Orange River in the south to the Kunene River and Angolan Border. Despite its macabre name - given by sailors wary of the strong winds, shifting sandbanks and rusting wrecks - the northern section of the great Namib Desert is full of life and a fascinating place for the informed visitor.
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