Walvis Bay

Walvis Bay (wôlˈvĭs) [key], municipality (1991 pop. 12,100), W central Namibia, on Walvis Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Walvis Bay is Namibia's most important port and the terminus of a railroad from the hinterland. Fishing fleets are stationed there, and the town has fish canneries. Salt is harvested. The Walvis Bay and its surrounding region were annexed by Great Britain in 1878 and incorporated into the Cape Colony. When South West Africa (now Namibia) was annexed (1884) by Germany, Walvis Bay became a British exclave administered by the Cape Colony. It was administered by South West Africa from 1922 until 1978 when South Africa regained control. The Walvis Bay exclave, c.430 sq mi (1,110 sq km), was retained by South Africa upon Namibia's independence (1990). In 1994 the exclave was relinquished and Namibia gained its only deepwater port and established a free-trade zone there. Walvis Bay is home to a large population of flamingos and is an internationally designated wetland and a migration point for many thousands of sea birds and waders, including Arctic terns, which make a 9,000-mi (14,500-km) journey from Siberia to feed there. It is also known as Walfisch Bay and Walvisbaai.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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