The World Factbook (1982)/Namibia

(South-West Africa)

(See reference map VII)


823,620 km2; mostly desert except for interior plateau and area along northern border

Land boundaries: 3,798 km


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 6 nm (fishing 12 nm)

Coastline: 1,489 km


Population: 1,086,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 3.0%

Nationality: noun—Namibian(s); adjective—Namibian

Ethnic divisions: 83% African, 11% white, 6% mulatto; approximately half the Africans belong to Ovambo tribe

Religion: whites predominantly Christian, nonwhites either animist or Christian

Language: Afrikaans principal language of about 70% of white population, German of 22% and English of 8%; several African languages

Literacy: high for white population; low for nonwhite

Labor force: 203,300 (total of economically active, 1970); 68% agriculture, 15% railroads, 13% mining, 4% fishing

Organized labor: no trade unions, although some white wage earners belong to South African unions


Official name: Namibia

Type: former German colony of South-West Africa man-dated to South Africa by League of Nations in 1920; UN formally ended South Africa's mandate on 27 October 1966, but South Africa has retained administrative control

Capital: Windhoek

Political subdivisions: 10 tribal homelands, mostly in northern sector, and zone open to white settlement, with administrative subdivisions similar to a province of South Africa

Legal system: based on Roman-Dutch law and customary law

Branches: since September 1977 Administrator-General, appointed by South African Government, has exercised coordinative functions over zone of white settlement and tribal homelands, where traditional chiefs and representative bodies exercise limited autonomy; Namibian National Assembly, elected December 1978, has been granted legislative powers, subject to Administrator-General's veto; a Ministers' Council, composed of members of the National Assembly and with limited executive powers, established July 1980

Government leader: Danie HOUGH, Administrator-General

Suffrage: several tribal homelands have adult franchise for homeland legislatures; all ethnic groups were eligible to vote in 1978 election for Namibian National Assembly

Elections: election of Namibian National Assembly, December 1978

Political parties and leaders: there are approximately 50 political parties in Namibia; the major parties include (white parties)—Action Front for the Preservation of the Turnhalle Principles (AKTUR), also known as the National Party of South-West Africa, Kosie Pretorius; Federal Party, Bryan O'Linn; Republican Party, Dirk Mudge; many of the nonwhite parties belong to the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), a multiethnic alliance of traditional tribal leaders and the white Republican Party, which is favored in South Africa; the other multiethnic alliance, the Namibian National Front (NNF), the white Federal Party, and nonwhite groups opposed to the homeland system, operates independently; South-West Africa People's Organization Democrats (SWAPO-D), a predominantly Ovambo party led by Andreas Shipanga, broke away from Sam Nujoma's SWAPO and is loosely affiliated with NNF

Voting strength: (1978 election) DTA won 41 seats in Namibian National Assembly; AKTUR, 6 seats; 3 miniscule parties, 1 seat each; NNF, SWAPO, and SWAPO-D boycotted elections; 15 additional, appointed seats have not been filled

Communists: no Communist Party, SWAPO guerrilla force is supported by USSR, Cuba, and other Communist states as well as OAU

Other political or pressure groups: South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), led by Sam Nujoma, maintains a foreign-based guerrilla movement; is predominantly Ovambo but has some influence among other tribes; is the only Namibian group recognized by the UN General Assembly and the Organization of African Unity


Agriculture: livestock raising (cattle and sheep) predominates, subsistence crops (millet, sorghum, corn, and some wheat) are raised but most food must be imported

Fishing: catch fell 31% to 277,000 metric tons (1980), processed mostly in South African enclave of Walvis Bay

Major industries: meatpacking, fish processing, copper, lead, diamond, and uranium mining, dairy products

Electric power: 540,000 kW capacity (1980); 1.3 billion kWh produced (1980), 1,251 kWh per capita

Aid: South Africa is only donor

Monetary conversion rate: 1 South African Rand = US$1.15 (as of March 1978); 0.87 SA Rand = US$1

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Railroads: 2,340 km 1.067-meter gauge, single track

Highways: 54,500 km; 4,079 km paved, 2,540 gravel, remainder earth roads and tracks

Ports: 2 major (Walvis Bay and Luderitz)

Civil air: 4 major transport aircraft

Airfields: 128 total, 102 usable; 17 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways over 3,659 m; 3 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 42 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: good urban, fair rural services; radio relay connects major towns, wires extend to other population centers; 50,300 telephones (5.2 per 100 popl.); 11 FM, no TV stations; AM and TV stations under construction


Military manpower: males 15-49, about 239,000; about 141,000 fit for military service

Defense is responsibility of Republic of South Africa; however, a Southwest African Territory Force was established 1 August 1980

Military budget: for fiscal year ending 31 March 1982, $63.1; 6.7% of central government budget