The World Factbook (1990)/Namibia



World Factbook (1990) Namibia.jpg

See regional map VII


Total area: 824,290 km²; land area: 823,290 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than half the size of Alaska

Land boundaries: 3,935 km total; Angola 1,376 km, Botswana 1,360 km, South Africa 966 km, Zambia 233 km

Coastline: 1,489 km

Maritime claims:

Exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Territorial sea: 6 nm

Disputes: short section of boundary with Botswana is indefinite; quadripoint with Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe is in disagreement; possible future claim to South Africa's Walvis Bay

Climate: desert; hot, dry; rainfall sparse and erratic

Terrain: mostly high plateau; Namib Desert along coast; Kalahari Desert in east

Natural resources: diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, lead, tin, zinc, salt, vanadium, natural gas, fish; suspected deposits of coal and iron ore

Land use: 1% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 64% meadows and pastures; 22% forest and woodland; 13% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: inhospitable with very limited natural water resources; desertification

Note: Walvis Bay area is an exclave of South Africa in Namibia


Population: 1,452,951 (July 1990), growth rate 5.6% (1990)

Birth rate: 46 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 10 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 20 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 71 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 57 years male, 63 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 6.6 children born/woman (1990)

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

Ethnic divisions: 86% black, 6.5% white, 7.5% mixed; about 50% of the population belong to the Ovambo tribe and 9% from the Kavangos tribe

Religion: predominantly Christian

Language: Afrikaans principal language of about 60% of white population, German of 33%, and English of 7% (all official); several indigenous languages

Literacy: 100% whites, 16% nonwhites

Labor force: 500,000; 60% agriculture, 19% industry and commerce, 8% services, 7% government, 6% mining (1981 est.)

Organized labor: 15 trade unions—largest is the mineworkers' union which has a sizable black membership


Long-form name: Republic of Namibia

Type: republic as of 21 March 1990

Capital: Windhoek

Administrative divisions: 26 districts; Bethanien, Boesmanland, Caprivi Oos, Damaraland, Gobabis, Grootfontein, Hereroland Oos, Hereroland Wes, Kaokoland, Karasburg, Karibib, Kavango, Keetmanshoop, Lüderitz, Maltahöhe, Mariental, Namaland, Okahandja, Omaruru, Otjiwarongo, Outjo, Owambo, Rehoboth, Swakopmund, Tsumeb, Windhoek

Independence: 21 March 1990

Constitution: ratified 9 February 1990

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

National holiday: Settlers' Day, 10 December

Executive branch: president, Cabinet, Constitutional Council

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Sam NUJOMA (since 21 March 1990)

Political parties and leaders: South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), Sam Nujoma; Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), Dirk Mudge; United Democratic Front (UDF), Justus Garoeb; Action Christian National (ACN), Kosie Pretorius; National Patriotic Front (NPF), Moses Katjiuongua; Federal Convention of Namibia (FCN), Hans Diergaardt; Namibia National Front (NNF), Vekuii Rukoro

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: National Assembly— last held on 7-11 November 1989 (next to be held NA); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(72 total) SWAPO 41, DTA 21, UDF 4, ACN 3, NNF 1, FCN 1, NPF 1

Communists: no Communist party

Other political or pressure groups: NA


Diplomatic representation: NA

Flag: a large blue triangle with a yellow sunburst fills the upper left section, and an equal green triangle (solid) fills the lower right section; the triangles are separated by a red stripe which is contrasted by two narrow white edge borders


Overview: The economy is heavily dependent on the mining industry to extract and process minerals for export. Mining accounts for almost 35% of GDP, agriculture and fisheries 10-15%, and manufacturing about 5%. Namibia is the fourth-largest exporter of nonfuel minerals in Africa and the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. Alluvial diamond deposits are among the richest in the world, making Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia also produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten, and it has substantial resources of coal.

GNP: $1.54 billion, per capita $1,245; real growth rate 2.9% (1987)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 15.1% (1989)

Unemployment rate: over 30% (1988)

Budget: revenues $781 million; expenditures $932 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY88)

Exports: $935 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—diamonds, uranium, zinc, copper, meat, processed fish, karakul skins; partners—South Africa

Imports: $856 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—foodstuffs, manufactured consumer goods, machinery and equipment; partners—South Africa, FRO, UK, US

External debt: about $27 million at independence; under a 1971 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, Namibia may not be liable for debt incurred during its colonial period

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 486,000 kW capacity; 1,280 million kWh produced, 930 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: meatpacking, fish processing, dairy products, mining (copper, lead, zinc, diamond, uranium)

Agriculture: accounts for 10% of GDP (including fishing); mostly subsistence farming; livestock raising major source of cash income; crops—millet, sorghum, peanuts; fish catch potential of over 1 million metric tons not being fulfilled, 1987 catch reaching only 520,000 metric tons; not self-sufficient in food

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $47.2 million

Currency: South African rand (plural—rand); 1 South African rand (R) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: South African rand (R) per US$1—2.5555 (January 1990), 2.6166 (1989), 2.2611 (1988), 2.0350 (1987), 2.2685 (1986), 2.1911 (1985)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Railroads: 2,341 km 1.067-meter gauge, single track

Highways: 54,500 km; 4,079 km paved, 2,540 km gravel, 47,881 km earth roads and tracks

Ports: Luderitz; primary maritime outlet is Walvis Bay (South Africa)

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 143 total, 123 usable; 21 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways over 3,659 m; 5 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 63 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: good urban, fair rural services; radio relay connects major towns, wires extend to other population centers; 62,800 telephones; stations—2 AM, 40 FM, 3 TV

Defense Forces

Branches: NA

Military manpower: males 15-49, 298,249; 176,660 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: 4.9% of GNP (1986)

Note: the South-West Africa Territorial Force, established in 1980, was demobilized in June 1989; a new national defense force will probably be formed by the new government