The history of this land can be found carved into rock paintings found to the south and in Twyfelfontein, some dating back to 26,000 B.C. A long lineage of various groups including San Bushmen, Bantu herdsmen and finally the Himba, Herero and Nama tribes among others have been making this rugged land home for thousands of years.
But, as Namibia has one of the world's most barren and inhospitable coastlines, it wasnt until the middle of the nineteenth century that explorers, ivory hunters, prospectors and missionaries began to journey into its interior. Beyond these visitors, Namibia was largely spared the attentions of European powers until the end of the 19th century when it was colonized by Germany.
The colonization period was marred by many conflicts and rebellions by the pre-colonial Namibia population until WWI when it abruptly ended upon Germany's surrender to the South African expeditionary army. In effect, this transition only traded one colonial experience for another.
In 1966 the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) launched the war for liberation for the area soon-named Namibia. The struggle for independence intensified and continued until South Africa agreed in 1988 to end its Apartheid administration. After democratic elections were held in 1989, Namibia became an independent state on March 21, 1990.
To date, Namibia boasts a proud record of uninterrupted peace and stability for all to enjoy.
Conservation is a cornerstone of the Namibian experience.
Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution, and the government has reinforced this by giving its communities the opportunity and rights to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies.
Today, over 43% of Namibia's surface area is under conservation management. This includes national parks and reserves, communal and commercial conservancies, community forests, and private nature reserves.
After Independence in 1990, visionary conservationists in the field and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism enacted policy changes that allowed rural communities to benefit from wildlife by forming conservancies. In 1998, the first four conservancies were registered.
Today, more than 70 registered conservancies embrace one in four rural Namibians. A sense of ownership over wildlife and other resources is encouraging people to use their resources sustainably. Wildlife is now embraced as a complimentary land use method to agriculture and livestock herding.
People are living with wildlife, including predators and large mammals, and are managing their natural resources wisely. They are also reaping the benefits. In 2009, community-based natural resource management generated over N$ 42 million in income to rural Namibians. All the while, the program is facilitating a remarkable recovery of wildlife.
Namibia now boasts the largest free-roaming population of black rhinos and cheetahs in the world and is the only country with an expanding population of free-roaming lions. Namibia's elephant population more than doubled between 1995 and 2008 from 7,500 to over 16,000 individuals. This remarkable turnaround has led some to call Namibia's conservation efforts the greatest African wildlife recovery story over told.
Namibia is truly unique, influenced by various cultures during colonization and now reborn from the shadows of Apartheid in 1990. What has emerged is a true sense of unity in diversity, the coming together of at least 11 major ethnic groups, each celebrating their past while working together toward the future.
You will notice this in dress, language, art, music, sport, food and religion. There exists a wonderful collage, but first and foremost, Namibians are proud to be Namibian. And for good reason.
Part of the allure of Namibia is that it's four countries in one.
Four different landscapes, each with its own characteristics and attractions. The most definitive is the Namib, a long coastal desert that runs the length of the country and is highlighted with migrating dune belts, dry riverbeds and canyons. The central plateau is home the majority of Namibia towns and villages and is divided between rugged mountain ranges and sand-filled valleys.
Next is the vast Kalahari Desert with its ancient red sand and sparse vegetation. Finally, Kavango and Caprivi, blessed with generous amounts of rain and typified by tropical forests, perennial rivers and woodland savannahs. .
This is Africa and the climate reflects it. But just as Namibia is filled with contrasting geography, equivalent climactic differences do apply depending on your location.
Partially covered by the Namib, one of the world's driest deserts, Namibia's climate is generally very dry and pleasant. The cold Benguella current keeps the coast cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year. Inland, all the rain falls in summer (November to April). January and February are hot, when daytime temperatures in the interior can exceed 40ºC (104ºF), but nights are usually cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and quite nice.
The bottom line: Namibia is a year-round destination. Just pack accordingly.
The ruggedness of the Namibian landscape has obviously done nothing to deter both flora and fauna from adapting and thriving. Here, the very act of survival can sometimes be an art. The shear abundance and variety of wildlife of all sizes is staggering.
Namibians are deeply committed to protecting our natural resources and the country's richness of wildlife can be attributed in large part to this commitment to conservation. Namibians are committed to living side by side with wildlife, including predators and large mammals. Namibia is the only country in the world where large numbers of rare and endangered wildlife are translocated from national parks to open communal land. This commitment to protecting wildlife is especially important given the country's remarkable diversity of species and high level of endemism.
Namibia is home to approximately 4,350 species and subspecies of vascular plants, of which 17% are endemic. Six hundred and seventy-six bird species have been recorded, of which over 90 are endemic to Southern Africa and 13 to Namibia. Furthermore, 217 species of mammals are found in Namibia, 26 of which are endemic, including unique desert-dwelling rhino and elephants. This high level of endemism gives Namibia's conservation of biodiversity a global significance.
Area: Namibia covers 824,292 sq km (318,259 sq mi).
Location: Situated on the southwestern coast of Africa, Namibia borders Angola and Zambia in the north, South Africa in the south and Botswana in the east.
Population: Slightly more than 2.3 million.
Capital City: Windhoek
Official name: Republic of Namibia
Date of Independence: 21 March 1990
System of Government: Multi-party Democracy
Head of State: President Dr Hage Geingob since 2015.
Prime Minister: Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila since 2015.
Language: English, German, Afrikaans, Oshiwambo, Rukwangari, Silozi, Otjiherero, Damara, Nama, Khisan and Setswana
Literacy: The current literacy rate in Namibia is about 83%, one of the highest in Africa.
Religion: Freedom of religion was adopted through Namibia's Bill of Fundamental Rights. About 90% of the population is Christian.
Currency: The Namibia Dollar (N$); the Namibia Dollar and South African Rand are the only legal tender in Namibia and can be used freely to purchase goods and services.
Time Zones: Summer time: GMT + 2 hours from the 1st Sunday in September to the 1st Sunday in April. Winter time: GMT + 1 hour from the 1st Sunday in April to the 1st Sunday in September.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50hz. Outlets are of the round three-pin type.
When you are overseas/ holiday destination, do call your close relatives/ friends to let them know you have arrived safely and keep them updated of where you are if you are moving around. Make sure to always keep your luggage locked when leaving them behind in the hotel. Carry your passport with you and ensure you don’t carry excessive cash that might attract attention. If you are taking a self drive holiday, make sure you collect the car from the airport and get a GPS.
When you are abroad and if you want to try something local, make sure it is a recommendation from a trustworthy source. To make life easier, get a local map and identify the tourist info centres. Moreover for safety precautions, avoid walking alone at night or in dark areas and beware of pickpockets whose modus operandi is by distracting you. Also, if you drive, follow the local traffic rules and avoid driving at night.
Before your return flight, do confirm your flight details in case of delays or cancellations. It is best to ensure that you have all travel documents prepared and easily accessible for check in. Always plan your packing and don’t do too much last minute shopping that can’t fit your luggage. Keep track with the luggage requirements of the country you’re visiting in mind.
Do not forget to remind your close relatives/ friends of your return and make arrangements for an airport pick up. Keep track of all your valuables and make sure that they are in your hand- wallet, passport, camera, watch, jewellery.
Last but not least, make sure you are at the airport two hours (or 3-4 hours in some countries) earlier to avoid missing the flight.