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Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa, whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean.
It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east.
Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River (essentially a small bulge in Botswana to achieve a Botswana/Zambia micro-border) separates them at their closest points.
It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence.
Its capital and largest city is Windhoek.
Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union(AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by San, Damara, and Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD by immigrating Bantu, who came with the Bantu expansion. Most of the territory became a German Imperial protectorate in 1884 and remained a German colony until the end of World War I. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated the country to South Africa, which imposed its laws and, from 1948, its apartheid policy.
The port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands had been annexed by the Cape Colony under the British crown by 1878 and had become an integral part of the newUnion of South Africa at its creation in 1910.
Uprisings and demands by African leaders led the UN to assume direct responsibility over the territory. It recognised the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia, however, remained under South African administration during this time as South-West Africa. Following internal violence, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990, with the exception of Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands, which remained under South African control until 1994.
Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry– including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold,silver, and base metals – form the basis of Namibia's economy.
Given the presence of the arid Namib Desert, it is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Namibia enjoys high political, economic and social stability.
Communal Wildlife Conservancies in Namibia
Namibia is one of few countries in the world to specifically address conservation and protection of natural resources in its constitution. Article 95 states;
"The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting international policies aimed at the following: maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity of Namibia, and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future."
In 1993, the newly formed government of Namibia received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism with the financial support from organisations such as USAID, Endangered Wildlife Trust, WWF, and Canadian Ambassador's Fund, together form a Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) support structure.
The main goal of this project is promote sustainable natural resource management by giving local communities rights to wildlife management and tourism.
Tourism in Namibia
Tourism is a major contributor (14.5%) to Namibia's GDP, creating tens of thousands of jobs (18.2% of all employment) directly or indirectly and servicing over a million tourists per year.
The country is a prime destination in Africa and is known for ecotourism which features Namibia's extensive wildlife.
There are many lodges and reserves to accommodate eco-tourists. Sport hunting is also a large, and growing component of the Namibian economy, accounting for 14% of total tourism in the year 2000, or $19.6 million US dollars, with Namibia boasting numerous species sought after by international sport hunters.
In addition, extreme sports such as sandboarding, skydiving and 4x4ing have become popular, and many cities have companies that provide tours.
The most visited places include the Caprivi Strip, Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast Park, Sesriem, Etosha Pan and the coastal towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.