Namibia

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Namibia is in Southern Africa, bordering South Africa, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly a colony of Germany, Namibia was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate after WWI, and annexed as a province of South Africa after WWII. The South-West African People's Organization (SWAPO) launched a guerrilla war for independence in 1966 and gained independence in 1990. Namibia boasts remarkable natural attractions such as the Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon Park, Etosha National Park and the Kalahari desert. Its people speak nine different languages, including some of the Khoisan languages which include the 'clicks' that present an enigma to most native English-speakers. Namibia produces some of the world's highest quality diamonds. (less...) (more...)

Population: 2,182,852 people
Area: 824,292 km2
Highest point: 2,606 m
Coastline: 1,572 km
Life expectancy: 52.03 years
GDP per capita: $7,900
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About Namibia

Background

Inhabited from the dawn of time by the San, also known as the "Bushmen", invaded by the Bantu, colonized by the Germans (who called it "South West Africa") and taken over by South Africa after WWI, Namibia is in many ways quite similar to South Africa. Since it was ruled under the apartheid system, Namibia also has many of the problems resulting from that system.

It is important to be aware that race is a common part of Namibian discourse. That is to say, Namibians will refer to the race of others more frequently than travellers from places where race is typically not an issue, would expect. Because of apartheid, race is an issue in many spheres of life, so it comes up a lot. In spite of this, the various races do get along well in Namibia, and it is fairly uncommon to find racial tensions flaring.

Namibia is similar to South Africa, and if you're used to travelling in one country, travelling in the other country is quite easy. There are some subtle differences. For example, in South Africa a non-white person may choose to speak English rather than Afrikaans (as a political choice) whereas among Namibia's mixed-race population (who call themselves 'colored' in Namibia and South Africa) Afrikaans is a proud part of their culture, and many people still speak German. Overlooking these differences isn't going to cause offense, but they're handy to know.

The public holidays in Namibia are:

  • January 1. New Year's Day
  • March 21. Independence Day
  • Easter weekend. ("Good Friday", "Easter Saturday", "Easter Sunday" and "Easter Monday"): a four day long weekend in March or April set according to the Western Christian dates.
  • May 1. Workers Day
  • May 4. Cassinga Day
  • May 25. Africa Day
  • August 26. Heroes' Day
  • December 10. Human Rights Day
  • December 25. Christmas Day
  • December 26. Day of Goodwill (Family Day)

Food

Namibians have a very high intake of meat.

  • Fruits and vegetables that you will find in Namibia include avocados, bananas, onions, oranges, pineapples, kiwi fruit, potatoes, and celery. Also fairly common are peanuts, beans, rice, couscous, millet, tomatoes, corn, bread, and pasta. Many of these foods are imported and therefore relatively expensive, in addition to being limited due to seasonal availability.
  • If visiting Windhoek, you will find local and international cuisine in the many diverse restaurants and cafes. Pretty much anything you want, you will find here.

Drinks

Namibia's nightclubs are always happening and always open late (pretty much until the last person leaves). They are mostly located in bigger cities: Windhoek, Swakopmund and Oshakati. There are not many bars, though there is very good beer, and there are a lot of shebeens. The flagship beer of Namibia is Windhoek Lager [11], an easy-drinking filtered beer, not dissimilar to many German brews.

Shopping

Namibia (along with Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland) is a member of the Southern African Common Monetary Area and as such the Namibian Dollar (NAD) is pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand (ZAR). Both the Namibian Dollar and South African Rand is legal tender in Namibia though change will usually be given in Namibian Dollars.

Banks in Namibia will convert Namibian Dollars for South African Rand and vice versa without charge or paperwork. Since any bank or currency exchange outside Namibia (including other members of the Common Monetary Area) will charge a substantial service fee to change currency, it is advisable to make use of a Namibian Bank before leaving the country.

It is also advisable to carry proof (for example, ATM receipts) that money you are taking out of the country is money that you brought into the country in the first place.


Rough conversion rates (April 2011) are: 8.5:1 (USD), 9.75:1 (EUR) and 11:1 (GBP). Current official exchange rates are available from the Namibian Central Bank [10]

Automated teller machines are available in Windhoek, Swakopmund, Luderitz, Tsumeb, and other towns and cities. It is best to use only teller machines that are inside a mall or other building. Always be careful to make sure no one is watching you enter your PIN, and be vigilant about typical scams (e.g. machines that seem to eat your card and won't give it back after you enter the PIN).

Prices in shops are fixed, but prices in open markets or from street vendors are open to barter.

In most towns you will be approached by many locals to buy souvenirs, when this happens a 'no thanks' will usually suffice and they will leave you alone. It is common to haggle. Try to buy as much as possible from small shops instead of bigger ones—it's the best way to help the poor local population.

The cross-border money transfer facilities are limited and expensive, with one of the poorest currency buying-and-selling rates, because government does not want the money to be sent out of the country. There are no Western Union Money Transfer offices in Namibia.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Namibia on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Namibia

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Swakopmund, known as Swakop in Namibia is the country's biggest coastal town and a resort for Namibians on holiday. The city's German origins are quite pronounced in beautiful old German Colonial buildings throughout the city, making an even starker contrast for this town sitting at the edge of the Namib ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Swakopmund Lighthouse
  • Marine Memorial
  • Kristall Galerie
  • Old Country Court
  • Alte Kaserne
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Windhoek is Namibia's capital and largest city (population ~250,000). It is in the geographic centre of the country at an elevation of 1,600m. This is the city where most safaris travelling through Namibia begin, and also the first point of entry in Namibia should you arrive by airplane.

Interesting places:

  • Zoo Park
  • Christ Church
  • Alte Feste
  • Tintenpalast
  • National Gallery of Namibia
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Sossusvlei is a common tourist destination in the southern part of the Namib Desert, Namibia. The word vlei is an Afrikaans word that means "marsh" and Sossusvlei is in a small valley between the dunes which sometimes gets snow! The name of the 'town' (i.e. petrol station) is Sesriem, also the name of a ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Dead Vlei
  • Sesriem Canyon
  • Elim Dune
  • Mt. Naukluftberge
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Walvis Bay is located at Namibia's west coast and the only commercial port of the country.

Interesting places:

  • Pelican Point Lighthouse
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Mariental is a city in Namibia.

Interesting places:

  • Hardap Reservoir
  • Kalahari Red Dunes
  • Church of Mariental
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The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is one of the largest canyons in the world.

Interesting places:

  • Fish River Canyon Park
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Kasane is a city in the Okavango-Chobe region, the northeast corner of Botswana. Set on the south bank of the Chobe River, it faces Namibia's Caprivi Strip to the north. Zimbabwe and Zambia lie nearby. Kasane is a tourist hub, a jumping-off point for the Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls.

Interesting places:

  • Impalila Conservancy
  • Impalila Pier
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Lüderitz is an old German coastal town in Namibia. It is noted for its distinctive German atmosphere and colonial style buildings, reflecting the Art Nouveau style architecture at the turn of the century. After a major renovation of the waterfront, it is now undergoing a major renaissance.

Interesting places:

  • Kolmanskop
  • Felsenkirche
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Ondangwa is a city in Namibia.

Interesting places:

  • Nakambale Museum
  • Ondangwa Craft Market
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Otjiwarongo (Otjiherero: "pleasant place" or "place where fat cattle graze") is a city of 20,000 inhabitants in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia. It is the district capital of the Otjiwarongo electoral constituency and also the capital of Otjozondjupa. Otjiwarongo is situated in central-north Namibia on the ... (read more)

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Tsumeb is a city in Oshikoto region of Namibia. It is close to Otavi and Grootfontein.

Interesting places:

  • Etosha National Park Namutoni Gate
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Opuwo is the capital of the Kunene region in north-western Namibia. Population 12 000.

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Interesting places:

  • Mamili National Park
  • Mashi Conservancy
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Interesting places:

  • Von Bach Dam
  • Okahandja Open-Air Market
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Gobabis is a town in Namibia.

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Interesting places:

  • Oanob Dam
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Oshakati is in Namibia.

Interesting places:

  • Oshakati Market
  • University of Nambi
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Tsumkwe is in a barren area of Namibia formerly known as Bushmanland.

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Namibia

Namibia is a land of much natural beauty. To truly appreciate the country, you need to get out in the countryside, either on a tour or by renting a car, and take in the deserts, the mountains, the villages and all that that Namibia has to offer.

One of its most dominant features, and the one for which the country is named, is the Namib Desert that stretches for nearly a 1000 km along the Atlantic coast. As one of the oldest deserts in the world, its sand takes on a distinctive rust colour and it has some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Sossusvlei is the most accessible part of the desert and is a magical place with its towering dunes that shift hues as the sun rises and sets. Further south, near the South African border, is Fish River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world. Stretching for 160 km, it is reaches 27 km across at its widest and nearly 550 m down at its deepest. In the north of the country is the empty and mostly inaccessible Skeleton Coast National Park. It's a seemingly barren expanse of stone and sand famous for its fog and the number of shipwrecks along the coast.

Perhaps not as plentiful as neighbouring Botswana or South Africa, Namibia still has plenty of African wildlife to see. This includes some local subspecies, such as desert lions, desert elephants and the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, which are adapted to the harsh desert climate. Grazing animals like gemsbok, ostrich and springbok are also common. Namibia's national parks are an excellent place to start and one of the most famous is Etosha National Park in Northern Namibia. The park surrounds the Etosha salt pan, which attracts animals, particularly in the drier winter months, because it is a source of water in a very dry land. Other notable spots to view wildlife are Waterberg Plateau Park, the parks of the Caprivi and the remote Kaokoland.

Namibia has a German influence from colonial times that is still reflected in some of its buildings. Windhoek has a number of interesting buildings like the Christuskirche, the train station and the castle-like Heinitzburg Hotel. Lüderitz is a colonial-era town with distinctive German Imperial and Art Nouveau styles. Nearby is the abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop. Once a thriving center for diamonds, the miners moved on and the sand dunes have moved in, but tours are still available.

Swakopmund Lighthouse - Swakopmund

Dead Vlei - Sesriem

Zoo Park - Windhoek

Kolmanskop - Luderitz

Twyfelfontein - Khorixas

Epupa Falls - Epupa

Pelican Point Lighthouse - Walvis Bay

Impalila Conservancy - Chobe

Spitzkoppe - Usakos

Etosha National Park Anderson Gate - Okaukuejo

Quiver Tree Forest - Keetmanshoop

Oanob Dam - GocheGanas

Von Bach Dam - Okahanja

Fish River Canyon Park - Fish River Canyon

Etosha National Park Namutoni Gate - Tsumeb

Onguma Private Game Reserve - Namutoni

Mamili National Park - Kongola

Roter Kamm Crater - Oranjemund

Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park - Rietoog

Marine Memorial - Swakopmund

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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