Namibia

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Geography The Republic of Namibia is in Southern Africa. The country is bordered by Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and the South Atlantic Ocean. Windhoek is the capital city and Walvis Bay is Namibia's main port. Nambia's terrain is mainly high plateau with desert (Namib and Kalahari). Rivers include the Fish, Okavango, Orange and Zambezi. The climate ranges from arid, semi-arid, temperate to subtropical. Environment Namibia's landscape is varied. The country has a long coastline, deserts, savannah, forests, woodlands, mountains and canyons. The Namib Desert is said to be the world's oldest desert and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia is one of the most spectacular canyons in the world. The protection of the environment is incorporated into Namibia's Constitution. The National Parks and Game Reserves are managed by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The largest conservation area is the Namib-Naukluft Park and the Etosha National Park is one of Africa's most important wildlife sanctuaries. Wildlife found in Namibia includes the antelope, buffalo, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, leopard, lion and rhinoceros. Walvis Bay Lagoon is an important habitat for coastal birds and the Cape Cross seal reserve has a large colony of fur seals. Architecture Luderitz, on the Atlantic coast, was the first German Colonial town in South West Africa. Examples of turn-of-the century German architecture can be seen in the capital city of Windhoek as well at Luderitz. Some of the capital's modern buildings are still influenced by the German style. The Namibian Institute of Architects presents a biannual Merit Award for modern architecture in Namibia and organises events to highlight the work of Namibian architects. Population The population of Namibia was estimated at 2,030,692 in 2005. Around half of the population are from the Ovambo tribe and nine percent from the Kavangos tribe; seven percent are Herero; seven percent, Damara; five percent, Nama ; four percent, Caprivian; three percent, "Bushmen"; two percent, Baster and point five percent are Tswana. Languages English is the official language and is spoken by seven percent of the population. Most of the people speak Afrikaans. Other languages are German and the indigenous languages of Herero, Nama and Oshivambo. Religion Eighty to ninety percent of the people are Christian and between ten and twenty percent have indigenous beliefs. Food Namibian cuisine is known for its use of game such as venison. Namibia is also an important producer of beef and mutton. Seafood is available from the country's coastal region. The German colonial period has left a legacy of a variety of sausages, breads, cakes and pastries, whilst the South African influence can be seen in foods such as biltong (air-dried meat). Traditional food includes porridge and soup made from cornmeal, millet or cassava, supplemented by fish or meat stew, vegetables and milk products. Wine is produced locally and beer made from marula fruit is a favourite during the marula harvest. History Early groups of people who lived in "Namibia" were the San or "Bushmen". Bantu-speaking people settled in the region between one and a half to two thousand years ago. The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese - Diego Cao (1486) and Bartholomew Diaz (1488). Germany annexed the country (South West Africa) towards the end of the nineteenth century. During the First World War South West Africa (SWA) was occupied by South Africa and in 1920 the League of Nations granted South Africa mandate over SWA. Following the Second World War SWA was annexed to South Africa. In 1966 the United Nations ended the mandate but South Africa continued to govern SWA extending South Africa's apartheid laws to the country. SWAPO, the South West Africa People's Organization, began the struggle for the country's independence which was achieved in 1990 although Walvis Bay (Namibia's most important port) was not handed back until 1994. The country became officially known as Namibia in 1968. Economy The mining industry is an important sector of Namibia's economy. Although only employing around three percent of the working population, mining earns twenty percent of Namibia's Gross Domestic Product. Namibia is a major producer of gem-quality diamonds and is the fifth largest producer of uranium in the world. Other minerals include copper, gold, lead, tin, tungsten, silver and zinc. Agriculture accounts for the employment of almost half of the population. Other related industries include meat packing and fish processing. The services sector employs thirty-three percent of Namibia's workforce. Tourism is an important earner of foreign currency and one of the fastest growing areas of Namibia's economy. Arts Namibia has a number of rock art sites, for example Twyfelfontein in Damaraland. Prehistoric art can also be seen at the National Museum of Namibia which exhibits a permanent rock art collection. Many of Namibia's craftsmen and craftswomen are supported by the Namibia Crafts Centre. Traditional crafts include basketry, pottery, woodcarving, and handmade carpets. Namibian artists work in theatre, music and films: "theatre (directors and actors); modern and traditional dancing; visual arts (painters and sculptors); film making (directors and producers); all forms of music; arts and craft; writers and playwrights; radio and television (artists and technicians)" - the "Namibian". Sport Popular sports in Namibia include football, basketball, rugby and cricket. In 1999 the Namibia Sports School opened to promote sport and excellence in sport. Other sporting activities available are hiking, cycling, mountaineering and fishing. Holidays Christmas and Easter are celebrated. Other holidays include New Year, Independence Day - 21 March (1990), Africa Day - 25 May and Human Rights Day - 10 December. News News is available from Newslink.


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