About Namibia

Geographical Information

Namibia Rhino

Namibia is located in southwest Africa. It is a large and mainly arid country sharing borders with Angola, Botswana and South Africa, with a narrow strip in the northeast corner also adjoining Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The western coast is one of the most desolate and lonely in the world and is known as the Skeleton Coast. The Namib Desert is also part of the western coast and is home to what is reputably the world’s highest sand dunes.

Namibia Desert

The southern interior of the country is more arid and flat. It contains the Etosha Pan (a dried-out saline lake), surrounded by grasslands and bush, which support a large and varied wildlife.

In the north and east are the Zambezi, Kwando, Okavango and Kunene Rivers. These rivers act as natural boundaries to neighboring countries.

Over 14% of the country is allocated to conservation areas. It has some of Africa’s finest game reserves, the most famous being the Etosha Park which covers an area 22 000 square kilometers. Game is abundant and it is not uncommon to see 5 or more mammal species at a single water hole. Namibia is also a birder’s paradise with a host of endemics. Because of is wide variety of habitats, the country is also fascinating to the keen botanist and geologist.

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History

Little is known about Namibia before the Europeans arrived, due to the fact that the Europeans were the first ones to write about what was happening. Traces of the events of this time can however still be found in the rich oral traditions that circulate in local communities. When the first Europeans settled here in the early decades of the1800’s, they found societies with complex social and cultural traditions.

Pre-colonial groups include Herrero, Nama, Bushmen (San), Oorlams (the descendants of Malay slaves, Khoi-San, Dutch and English at the Cape) and other ethnic groups.

Namibia became a German protectorate in 1884. The conquest of German South West Africa by South African forces during World War I resulted in its subsequent administration by South Africa under a 1920 League of Nations mandate. A war between the occupying South African forces and the SWAPO (South-west Africa People’s Organization) liberation movement started in 1966.

In 1989 the implementation of United Nations Resolution 435 for free and fair elections resulted in SWAPO coming to power. On March 21, 1990, Dr. Sam Nujoma became the country’s first president. Namibia is now ruled by a Multiparty Parliament and has a democratic Constitution.

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Climate / Seasons

The climate is typically semi-desert with hot days and cool nights. Namibia averages 300 days of sunshine a year.

The rainy season lasts from October to April. The rest of the year is dry and cloudless.

Temperature (F) – These are the average lows and highs:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
WDH 63/86 63/84 59/81 55/77 48/72 45/68 45/68 46/73 54/79 57/84 61/84 63/88
SWP 54/77 54/73 54/73 59/77 59/77 64/82 59/82 59/82 54/77 54/77 54/77 54/77

Average Rainfall (inches). This varies according to the year and your location.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
WDH 1.69 2.08 2.20 1.10 0.20 0.12 0.12 0.12 0.12 0.39 0.91 1.02
SWP 0.47 0.59 0.47 0.39 0.39 0.39 0.28 0.35 0.43 0.59 0.63 0.43

Note: WDH is Windhoek and SWP is Swakopmund.

The cold Benguela current keeps the coast of the Namib Desert cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year, with a thick coastal fog. Inland, rain falls in summer. Summer temperatures are high while the altitude means that nights are cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and pleasant.

During the Winter (May-September), temperatures in the interior during the day can range from 64F-77F (18C-25C). Below freezing temperatures and ground frost are common at night.

For the Summer (October-April), average interior temperatures during the day range from 68F-93F (20C-34C). Temperatures above 104F (40C) are often recorded in the extreme north and south of the country. The coast influenced by the cold Benguela current, boasts a relatively stable range of 68F-93F (15C-25C). Heavy fog is fairly common at night.

Humidity is generally very low in most parts of Namibia, but can reach as high as 80% in the extreme north during summer. The rainy season is from October-April.

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Language

English is the official language of Namibia.

Over 30 other languages are spoken in Namibia. Regional languages include Diriku, Herero, Kwangali, Kwanyama, Lozi, Mbukushu, Nama, Ndonga, and Tswana.

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Other Resources

The Namibia Tourist Board offers more information at their web site.

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Safaris in Namibia

Click here for safaris to Namibia.