The country has four main geographical regions: the arid and barren Namib Desert, which runs along the entire Atlantic coast with widths of from 50 to 80 mi (80–130 km); an extensive central plateau that averages c.3,600 ft (1,100 m) in elevation; the western fringes of the Kalahari Desert in the east; and an alluvial plain in the north that includes the Etosha Pan, a large salt marsh. The highest point is Brandberg Mt. (8,402 ft/2,561 m), situated in the western part of the central plateau. In addition to the capital, other towns include Keetmanshoop, Tsumeb, Lüderitz, Gobabis, and Otjiwarongo.
Namibia has an ethnically diverse population that includes the Bantu-speaking Ovambo (about 50% of the population), Kavango, and Herero; various Nama (see Khoikhoi) groups; the Damara; San (Bushmen); and whites of South African, German, and British descent. English is the official language, but most of the population speaks Afrikaans. About 80% of the population is Christian, and the rest follow traditional beliefs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.