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Namibia

Overview

Namibia is a large country that graces the southwestern coast of Africa.  Namibia has a spectacular landscape that varies from grassy savanna to arid desert. Breathtaking mountains reach towards the sky and deep canyons carve across the land. However, this dazzling country is sparsely populated as only its northern frontier is passable.  In fact, Namibia is home to only 2.4 million people.  The skeleton coast (a collection of treacherous coastal shoals and reefs), the fevered Namib desert and dry Kalahari region geographically frame Namibia.  Both the Kalahari and Namib are home to fragile and exotically beautiful desert plants. Namibia also hosts a significant amount of game animals–most notably the antelope and giraffe.

Arts and Humanities

English is the official language in Namibia, but German, Afrikaans, German, Oshivambo, Herero and Nama are also widely spoken across the country.  Namibia is incredibly diverse. Artists often sing in their native tongue, but popular songs can contain up to three different languages.  Before the country gained independence, political music was incredibly popular, particularly in the 1960s to 1990s.  Modern song lyrics still often contain messages of love, peace, resistance, friendship and family. Namibia’s modern music scene has a number of popular genres.  These include Kwaito, a South African-based genre that expanded into Namibia; Shambo, a lyrical genre pioneered by the Oshiwambo-speaking people of Namibia and popular in the rural parts of the country; reggae; gospel; Africaans pop music; hip-hop and Afro-pop.  

Environmental Conditions

Despite Namibia’s sparse population, excessive farming has damaged the fragile ecology in the northern regions. Most of the perennial grasses and woodlands have vanished.  Overhunting and drought has significantly depleted game herds. However, in recent times, progress has been made. In the 1980’s, the government began employing persons from local communities to search for and report poachers and to act as tourist guides around the vicinities of their home. In return, they would receive a monthly stipend and food ration.  By making wildlife preservation lucrative and non-disruptive, wildlife is rebounding and ecotourism has begun to flourish.  

Leadership

South Africa controlled Namibia during WWI.  However, the country gained its independence in 1990 after a 25-year long war. Namibia is still culturally diverse and inter-racial reconciliation has long been encouraged.  In November of 2014, while serving prime minister, Hage Geingob was voted in as Namibia’s president. President Geingob was Namibia’s first prime minister since the country gained independence.  As President, Geingob will share executive power with Namibia’s cabinet. His presidency is limited to two five-year terms.  

Media Profile

Namibia is very media-friendly.  The government respects the constitutionally provided freedom of press.  News is freely circulated and opposition views are openly expressed.  There are currently more than 20 community and private radio stations that broadcast across the country. By June of 2012, there were 260,000 internet users in Namibia.