History of Namibia

Coast of Namibia
Formerly known as South West Africa, Namibia is bordered by the South Atlantic Ocean and the countries of Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and to the southeast, South Africa.

The history of Namibia dates back to the prehistoric period around 14th century A.D. with the migration of the Himba, Herero and Bantu tribes from the north and East Africa. However, it was not until the 18th century that European explorers consisting of missionaries, traders, and hunters began to occupy the area. Between 1878 and 1890, the influence of the United Kingdom and Germany was evident with Germany’s control occurring during 1904–’08. This resulted from the tribal wars between the Herero and Nama groups over hunting and grazing land. However, Germany’s control ended after World War I, followed by South Africa’s occupation in 1915.

In 1920, the League of Nations agreement was signed by South Africa giving them control of South West Africa and this was later suspended in 1946, by the UN. However, in 1951, South Africa extended their apartheid policy to South West Africa and the UN removed South Africa's control in 1966, the same year the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) began fighting to free Namibia.

Despite, intense pressure from the UN, South Africa refused to give up control and after 23 years of diplomatic conflicts between the international community, SWAPO and South Africa, o­n November 11, 1989, Namibia has its first free elections. This followed the amendment of the Constitution in 1990, and Namibia having its own currency in 1993. However, full independence for Namibia did not occur until 1994, when South Africa relinquished some offshore islands and Walvis Bay, which represents Namibia’s sole seaport of any economic significance.

After many years of struggles, Namibia celebrates its independence o­n March 21.