Namibia is bordered on the north by Angola and Zambia, on the east by Botswana, and on the east and south by South Africa. It is for the most part a portion of the high plateau of southern Africa, with a general elevation of from 3,000 to 4,000 ft.
The San peoples may have inhabited what is now Namibia more than 2,000 years ago. The Bantu-speaking Herero settled there in the 1600s. The Ovambo, the largest ethnic group today, migrated in the 1800s.
In the late 15th century, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to visit Namibia. Formerly called South-West Africa, the territory became a German colony in 1884. Between 1904 and 1908, German troops massacred tens of thousands of Herero, who had revolted against colonial rule. In 1915, during World War I, Namibian territory was taken over by South African forces. In 1921, it became a mandated territory of the League of Nations, under the administration of South Africa.
South Africa Struggles to Retain Power over Namibia
Upon the dissolution of the League of Nations in 1946, South Africa refused to accept United Nations authority to replace its mandate with a UN trusteeship. A black Marxist separatist group, the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO), formed in 1960 and began small-scale guerrilla attacks aimed at achieving independence. In 1966, the UN called for South Africa's withdrawal from the territory, and officially renamed it Namibia in 1968. South Africa refused to obey. Under a 1974 Security Council resolution, South Africa was required to begin the transfer of power or face UN action. Prime Minister Balthazar J. Vorster rejected UN supervision, claiming that his government was prepared to negotiate Namibian independence, but not with SWAPO, which the UN had recognized as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Namibian people.
Installation of Namibian Government
South Africa handed over limited powers to a new multiracial administration in 1985 (the previous government had enforced South Africa's apartheid laws). Installation of this government ended South Africa's direct rule, but it retained an effective veto over the new government's decisions. Finally, in 1988 a South Africa agreed to a plan for independence. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma was elected president, and on March 21, 1990, Namibia achieved nationhood.
Nujoma was reelected in 1994 and again in 1999, after the constitution was amended to allow him to seek a third term. Nujoma announced in Nov. 2001 that he would not seek reelection when his term expired in 2004. In Nov. 2004, Hifikepunye Pohamba of SWAPO was elected president with 76% of the vote. He took office on March 21, 2005, and was easily reelected in 2009, taking 75% of the vote.
In 2004, Germany issued a formal apology for the massacre of Herero by German colonial troops between 1904 and 1908.
In a 2012 cabinet reshuffle, Hage Geingob became prime minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah foreign minister, Nahas Angula defense minister, and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana home affairs minister. In 2014 presidential elections, Geingob won by an overwhelming 86.7% of the vote. His party, SWAPO, received 80% of the vote.
Geingob took office as president on March 21, 2015. He nominated Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila as prime minister. A member of the National Assembly of Namibia since 1995, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also took office on March 21. She previously served as minister of finance from 2003 to 2015.