Windhoek Commonwealth Walkway

Namibia / Africa

Namibia is a country in southern Africa on the west coast.  It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east.  Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence.  It is a member state of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community, the African Union.  Namibia joined the Commonwealth in 1990. As the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, Namibia has been inhabited since prehistoric times by the San, Damara, and Nama people.  In 1884, the German Empire established rule over most of the territory, forming a colony known as German South-West Africa (GSWA).  It developed farming and infrastructure.  Between 1904 and 1908 it perpetrated a genocide against the Herero and Nama people.  German rule ended in 1915 with defeat by South African forces.  In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated the administration of the colony to South 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 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.  The party is dominated by the Ovambo (a large plurality in the territory).  Following this came guerrilla warfare, and South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985.  Though Namibia obtained full independence in 1990, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994. Namibia 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.  The large, arid Namib Desert from which the country derived its name has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Fun facts:  More cheetahs live here than anywhere else.  It has the world’s oldest desert, and more than 40% of the country is under conservation management – hence its beautiful wildlife.  Windhoek: Windhoek is the capital and largest city of Namibia.  It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around 1,700 metres above sea level, almost exactly at the country’s geographical centre.  The city developed rapidly at the site of a permanent hot spring known to the indigenous pastoral communities after Jonker Afrikaner (c1785-1861), Captain of the Orlam, settled here in 1840 and built a stone church for his community.    In the decades that followed, multiple wars and armed hostilities resulted in the neglect and destruction of the new settlement.  Windhoek was founded a second time in 1890 by Imperial German Army Major, Curt von François (1852-1931), when the territory was colonised by the German Empire. The population was 431,000 in 2020 and is ever-growing due to an influx from all over Namibia.  Windhoek is the social, economic, political, and cultural centre of the country.  Nearly every Namibian national enterprise, government body, and educational and cultural institution is headquartered there. 

3.4 miles / 5.5 kilometres

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