Namibia People

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.

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The major ethnic groups are the Ovambo, 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.

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Afrikaans is the lingua franca. But it is fast becoming outmoded as young Namibians choose the official language of English as their second tongue.

Updated: Thu 14 May, 2020

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