Namibia (Republic of Namibia)
|Flag of Namibia|
The driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia has been inhabited since pre-historic times by the San, Damara and Nama people. Around the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu groups, the largest being the Ovambo, have dominated the population of the country; since the late 19th century, they have constituted a majority. Today Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.
It has a population of 2.55 million people and is a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver and base metals – form the basis of its economy, while the manufacturing sector is comparatively small.
In 1884, the German Empire established rule over most of the territory, forming a colony known as German South West Africa. Between 1904 and 1908, it perpetrated a genocide against the Herero and Nama people. German rule ended in 1915 with a defeat by South African forces. In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated administration of the colony to South Africa. As mandatory power, South Africa imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules. From 1948, with the National Party elected to power, this included South Africa applying apartheid to what was then known as South West Africa. In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but the country of South Africa maintained de facto rule. In 1973, the UN recognised the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people. Following continued guerrilla warfare, Namibia obtained independence in 1990. However, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.