Nation at a Glance - Namibia

History

South Africa occupied the German colony of South-West Africa during World War I and administered it as a mandate until after World War II, when it annexed the territory. In 1966, the Marxist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrilla group launched a war of independence for the area that became Namibia, but it was not until 1988 that South Africa agreed to end its administration in accordance with a UN peace plan for the entire region. Namibia has been governed by SWAPO since the country won independence in 1990, though the party has dropped much of its Marxist ideology. Prime Minister Hage GEINGOB was elected president in November 2014 in a landslide victory, replacing Hifikepunye POHAMBA who stepped down after serving two terms. SWAPO retained its parliamentary super majority in the November 2014 elections and established a system of gender parity in parliamentary positions.

Location: Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and South Africa

Border Countries: Angola 1,427 km, Botswana 1,544 km, South Africa 1,005 km, Zambia 244 km

Total Area: 824,292 sq km Land: 823,290 sq km Water: 1,002 sq km

Climate: Desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic

Terrain: Mostly high plateau; Namib Desert along coast; Kalahari Desert in east

Natural resources: Diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, silver, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, tungsten, zinc, salt, hydropower, fish

Land use: Agricultural land: 47.2% arable land 1%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 46.2%Forest: 8.8% Other: 44% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Black 87.5%, White 6%, Mixed 6.5%

Languages: Oshiwambo languages 48.9%, Nama/Damara 11.3%, Afrikaans 10.4% (common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population), Otjiherero languages 8.6%, Kavango languages 8.5%, Caprivi languages 4.8%, English (official) 3.4%, other African languages 2.3%, Other 1.7%

Religions: Christian 80% to 90% (at least 50% Lutheran), indigenous beliefs 10% to 20%

Population: 2,436,469

Literacy: 81.9%; Male: 79.2%; Female: 84.5% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 14 regions; Erongo, Hardap, //Karas, Kavango East, Kavango West, Khomas, Kunene, Ohangwena, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa, Zambezi; note - the Karas Region was renamed //Karas in September 2013 to include the alveolar lateral click of the Khoekhoegowab language

Economy: The economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for 11.5% of GDP, but provides more than 50% of foreign exchange earnings. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Marine diamond mining is increasingly important as the terrestrial diamond supply has dwindled. The rising cost of mining diamonds, increasingly from the sea, combined with increased diamond production in Russia and China, has reduced profit margins. Namibian authorities have emphasized the need to add value to raw materials, do more in-country manufacturing, and exploit the services market, especially in the logistics and transportation sectors.Namibia is the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. The Chinese owned Husab uranium mine in expected to start producing uranium ore in 2017. Once the Husab mine reaches full production, Namibia is expected to become the world’s second-largest producer of uranium. Namibia also produces large quantities of zinc and is a smaller producer of gold and copper. The mining and quarrying sectors employ 2% of the population. Namibia's economy remains vulnerable to world commodity price fluctuations, and drought.Namibia normally imports about 50% of its cereal requirements; in drought years food shortages can be a problem in rural areas. A high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides one of the world's most unequal income distributions. A priority of the current government is poverty eradication.A five-year, Millennium Challenge Corporation compact ended in September 2014. As an upper middle income country, Namibia is ineligible for a second compact. The Namibian economy is closely linked to South Africa with the Namibian dollar pegged one-to-one to the South African rand. Namibia receives 30%-40% of its revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Volatility in the size of Namibia's annual SACU allotment complicates budget planning.

Agriculture - products: Millet, sorghum, peanuts, grapes; livestock; fish

Industries: Meatpacking, fish processing, dairy products, pasta, beverages; mining (diamonds, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten, uranium, copper)

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