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The Republic of Namibia is a South African country with a long Atlantic coastline on its western border. Neighboring countries include Angola, Zambia, Botswana, and the Republic of South Africa. It does not border Zimbabwe but is separated from it by about six hundred feet of the Zambezi River, within Botswana.

Since achieving independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia has transitioned from white minority rule to a representative democratic republic, with several active political parties, although the same party has won every election since 1990. Presidential elections are held every five years, and the president serves as head of state and of government. However, all members of the government are responsible to the legislature, which has an upper and lower house.

Namibia has a low population density, and the majority of its population are of ethnicities related to the Bantu. Whites make up less than 10% of the population and are mostly Afrikaners of British, German, and Portuguese origin.

Until Namibia became independent of South Africa, its official languages were English, German, and Afrikaans. The new government has promoted a one-language policy, that being English, although English is the first language of less than 5% of its population. The most common languages are Oshiwambo, Nama/Damara, Afrikaans, Kavango, and Otjiherero. The country's white population speaks Afrikaans or German primarily, with minority white languages being English or Portuguese.

Up to 90% of the country's people claim Christianity as their religion, Lutheran being the most common. Others include Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, African Methodist Episcopal, Dutch Reformed, and the Mormons. Namibia has a small population of Muslims, and a much smaller Jewish population.

Primary and secondary schooling is free. Most of the country's schools are public. While there are some private schools, they must follow the minimum standards of the public school curriculum. There are also four teacher training universities, three agricultural colleges, a police training institute, and two universities.

The area of Namibia was inhabited long ago, some say at the dawn of humanity. If so, the earlier people lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Perhaps 20,000 years ago, the people of Southern Africa had become more organized but were still nomadic. They are believed to have been the ancestors of the San people.

Eventually, their primitive stone tools gave way to bone, wood, and iron implements, in graduation. Better tools allowed for more efficiency and allowed for other pursuits, such as rock art, personal adornments, and pottery. In time, they developed agriculture and learned to raise livestock. Of course, this required a more settled lifestyle.

Beginning around the 1300s, Bantu people began emigrating to the region from Central Africa. Then came the Oorlam people from Cape Colony, settling the southern part of Namibia. In the late 1800s, the encroachments led to war between the Oorlam and a few of the tribes that had long been in the region. By then, Europeans had exerted power in the continent, and the war was put down by the Germans.

Namibia became a German colony in 1884 and became known as German South West Africa. The Herero and Namaqua tribes resisted German colonialism and, in response, the Germans systematically murdered 10,000 of the Namaqua people, about 50% of their population, and 65,000, or about 80%, of the Herero people. The survivors were imprisoned, deported, or subjected to forced labor.

Under German rule, most Africans were relegated to specified specific areas, which would later be known as homelands, under South African rule.

When Germany was defeated during the First World War, South Africa took control of the colony with a mandate from the League of Nations. At that time, South Africa was ruled by its white minority, whose elected government was for whites only. When the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations, the UN asked for a schedule for the eventual independence of Namibia, but South Africa refused to surrender its rule over Namibia. Instead, it established its system of apartheid in Namibia as well as in South Africa.

Even when the United Nations revoked South Africa's mandate in 1966, it continued to rule over Namibia. In response, the Southwest Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) began an armed rebellion against the government of South Africa in Namibia, succeeding in 1988.

The SWAPO candidate won in the country's first inclusive election, and has remained in power since. There have been difficulties, largely over land issues, given that whites owned more than 70% of the agricultural land. The 1975-2002 Angolan civil war also spilled over into Namibia, and the government put down a secessionist movement in 1999, involving the Caprivi Strip.

 

 

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