Namibia General Information
Approximately 75% of Namibia’s population profess Christianity and German Lutheranism is the dominant sect in most of the country. There is a small minority of Roman Catholics in the central and northern areas. Non-Christian Namibians live mainly in the north and continue to follow animistic traditions and participate in ancestor-veneration.
As a first language, most Namibians speak either Owambo, a Bantu dialect, or one of the several Khoisan languages. Of the European languages, Afrikaans (technically a Dutch dialect), German and English are spoken, but not to any great degree.
Area (sq. km):
825,418 square meters
When To Travel
The climate is generally hot and dry. Average temperature extremes in Windhoek, on the central plateau, are 17° to 29°C in summer (December) and 6° to 20°C in winter (July). Daily temperatures on the central plateau and in the Kalahari desert may differ by as much as 30ºc in the summer. The coast is cooled somewhat by the Benguela Current. Average temperature extremes in coastal Swakopmund are 15° to 23°C in January during the summer and 8° to 21°C in July. The average annual rainfall in the Namib Desert along the coast is about 50 mm. Inland, annual rainfall increases from 150 mm in the south to about 560 mm in the north. What little rain occurs falls from February through May. Most precipitation occurs from October through April. The meagre and highly variable precipitation is not very effective in watering the land because of a high rate of evaporation. As a result the territory suffers from prolonged periodic droughts.
Useful Travel Facts
Windhoek’s Chief Hosea Kutako International Airport is located 42 kilometres east of the city centre. A taxi between the airport and the city centre should set you back about US$20.00.
The international dialling code for Namibia is +264. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.
The electricity supply in Africa is rated at 220 volts/50 cycles, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round three pin plugs are the most common types in southern Africa.
Outside of Swakopmund and Windhoek, the food is quite basic, you will come across a lot of the main staple of sourghum and mealie meal, meat and vegetables. Due to the German influence, there are a lot of cafes and cake shops, which serve great pastries in Swakopmund, and Luderitz. The German cuisine is also big on boerewors, a huge 'farmers sausage'. Pastries, breads, cakes, fruit and cold cuts also derive from the Germans. You’ll also find Nando’s in Namibia, make sure you try the peri-peri (chilli) sauce! Along the coastline, you’ll find some great fish dishs, fish served will most likely be kingklip, kabeljou and various types of shellfish (the mussels are fantastic). The major beer in Namibia is Windhoek Lager.
Bus services are limited to a few luxury coaches that connect Windhoek to Cape Town and Johannesburg, but local minibuses run up and down the B1 from Oshakati to Keetmanshoop. The Trans-Namib Railway operates a service that connects most major towns. The trains are reliable and carry economy and sleeper classes, and if you're not in a rush they represent a pleasant and inexpensive - if extremely slow - way to see the country. There are taxis in Windhoek and a local bus service also. However, the easiest way to get around Namibia is to drive and an excellent system of tarred roads covers the country. Cars, motorbikes and 4WDs are available for hire, but they are very expensive and the cost of fuel to cover such vast distances is a factor also. A cheaper way to see the country is to join an organised camping tour, and this is a particularly good option to get to far-flung and difficult places like the Skeleton Coast, Bushmanland, the Kaokoveld, and Damaraland. Typically these are low-tech camping-and-transport affairs.
Namibia isn't especially known for being a shopper's paradise, however, there are some interesting curios available for purchase. Native handicrafts include colourful Herero dolls, attractive baskets and ostrich eggshell jewellery. Diamonds and other semiprecious stones such as malachite, amethyst, aquamarine, jasper and rose quartz are also available - be sure to buy from a reputable dealer in either raw form or cut and polished. You can also pick up genuine famous brand surf clothing from sports stores, such as Quiksilver and Insight for prices much cheaper than at home.
Visa: Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Namibia. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. For those nationalities that do require a visa these need to be obtained prior to arrival in Namibia.
Useful Words & Phrases
Lonely Planet Namibia
The Struggle for Liberation-Alfred T Moleah
The Burning Shore-Wilbur Smith