Since at least 6000 BC members of the San lived in the area of present-day Namibia as collectors and small animal hunters. Around 500 AD various Bantu-speaking peoples such as the Damara immigrated to the country.
In 1486, the Portuguese seafarer Diego Cão was the first European to enter the coast of what is now Namibia near Kaap Kruis. An erected cross marked Portugal’s claim to ownership of this area. Around the same time, other peoples came from the north: Ovambo and Okavango, cattle breeding and agriculture, settled mainly in the north, while the shepherds of the Nama (who belonged to the Khoi-Khoin) and Herero lived in the south. The Herero were able to assert themselves in the clashes between these two peoples, but in the 18th century they had to give up their position of power to the Orlam who immigrated from the south. The Orlam brought with them the Christianity and the Afrikaans language of the Boers.
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In the middle of the 19th century, the German “Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft” founded branches along the Namibian coast. In the second half of the same century, the Baster (descendants of white fathers and black mothers) immigrated from South Africa and founded the city of Rehoboth on the site of a former mission. In 1878 Great Britain took possession of the “Walvis Bay” (Walvis Bay) and placed it under its Cape Colony.
Five years later, the German merchant Adolf L¨¹deritz acquired from the Nama a 150 km wide coastline that stretched from the mouth of the Oranje river almost up to the whale bay. A year later, this area was declared “German Southwest Africa” as a German protected area. The colonization of further areas by Germans began. In 1892 the entire area between the Kunene rivers in the north and Oranje in the south was declared a German colony. The resident peoples were subjugated or exposed: after the uprisings of the Orlam, Nama and Herero, they were forced into the desert areas, where a large part of them perished. It is estimated that only 15,000 of the approximately 80,000 Hereros survived. The remaining tribes were largely expropriated orthey were deprived of their livelihood by taking away the cattle.
First discoveries of diamond fields made the colony of German South West Africa prosper. According to AbbreviationFinder, the area was occupied by the British troops of the South African Union in 1914, and after the end of the First World War the Union received the League of Nations mandate for German South-West Africa. Although the UN rejected annexation of the area to South Africa (1946), the country was administered and governed by its government like part of South Africa. As part of the strict racial segregation policy (apartheid), this included, among other things, the forced resettlement of the black population to designated reserves (homelands).
In the late 1950s, the Southwest African People’s Organization (SWAPO) socialist liberation front was founded to fight for the country’s liberation from South African domination. In 1966, South Africa’s mandate over South West Africa was withdrawn by a decision of the UN General Assembly, but de facto nothing changed in the prevailing structures. From 1968 the term “Namibia” was introduced for the former South West Africa (after the Namib Desert).
After the UN declared the presence of South Africa in Namibia illegal (1971), it recognized SWAPO as a legitimate representative of the Namibian people (1973). In 1975 South Africa initiated the so-called “Gym Conference” in Windhoek, in which representatives of the eleven largest population groups in Namibia participated and drew up a draft constitution that provided for a multiracial interim government and the country’s independence. SWAPO, which was now operating from Angola, was not involved in these talks.
The elections held in 1978 were boycotted by SWAPO, the “Democratic Gym Alliance” (DTA) was not recognized by the UN, nor was the transitional government of the DTA formed in 1985. In 1988, South Africa agreed to Namibia’s independence as part of a peace agreement with Angola and Cuba (in return, Cuban troops were withdrawn from Angola). SWAPO won an absolute majority in the 1989 elections to the Constituent Assembly. In the same year, the last South African troops left the country.
The independence of the Republic of Namibia was proclaimed in March 1990. SWAPO chairman Samuel Nujoma became the first state president, who also held the office of head of government. In a 1991 contract, Namibia and South Africa agreed to share and manage Namibia’s only deep-sea port in the Walvis Bay (occupied by South Africa since 1878). In order to reduce the economic dependence on South Africa, a separate currency was introduced in Namibia in 1993 (Namibia dollar). A year later, Nujoma was confirmed as President. The gradual handover of land to black farmers was decided by law: at that time, around 50% of the country was in the hands of whites, who accounted for around 6% of the total population.However, the policy of “reconciliation” pursued by Nujoma enabled a largely peaceful coexistence in Namibia. In the December 1999 elections, the ruling SWAPO party of incumbent President Nujoma again won the majority of votes, and Nujoma was sworn in for a third term in March 2000. For the 2004 elections, he proposed Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba as his successor, who replaced him in 2005 as president and in 2007 as party leader of SWAPO. Nujoma and three senior SWAPO officials were charged in mid 2007 by Phil ya Nangoloh, director of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), for human rights violations before and after independence before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Violent clashes between supporters of the parties SWAPO and RDP shaped the parliamentary and presidential elections in November 2009. The votes were classified as fair and free, irregularities in the counting and the delayed announcement of the election result make it doubtful. In addition, observer status was temporarily withdrawn from the NSHR (Namibian Society for Human Rights) during the election period. The incumbent Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba won the presidential elections with 75% of the vote and also in the parliamentary elections SWAPO was able to achieve a clear majority with 74%.