Namibia is situated immediately north of South Africa on the Atlantic Ocean and bordered by Botswana, Angola, and Zambia, and it is the second-most sparsely populated country in the world, after Mongolia. A trip to Namibia offers an excellent array of African culture and landscape, but there are several tips every visitor should follow to have the best possible holiday.
The lands now known as Namibia have long been inhabited by native tribes. Between 1884 and 1920, these lands were claimed as a colony of Germany and known only as South West Africa. However, after Germany's defeat of World War I, the League of Nations mandated this land should be ruled instead by South Africa. Over the following decades, South Africa established restricting apartheid policies and laws on the people of South West Africa. In 1966, the unsatisfied African leaders formed the Southwest African People's Organization and began a long war for independence that came to fruition in 1990. The people adopted the name Namibia after the nearby Namib Desert. Today, Namibia's population of 1.8 million people proudly boasts a parliamentary democracy and a stable economy of agriculture, tourism, and mining some of the world's highest-quality diamonds.
Many Namibia travel destinations take advantage of the plentiful natural landscapes the country has to offer, from the heights of the Brandberg Mountains and the Spitzkoppe to the depths of Fish River Canyon Park. An area called Kaokoland is home to desert elephants, lions, and the Epupa Waterfalls. The coastal town of Swakopmund boasts beautiful beach vistas, while the Namib and Kalahari deserts offer a much drier climate. Of course, a vacation in Namibia would not be complete without viewing the native African wildlife in Etosha National Park and Waterberg Plateau Park.
A trip to Namibia offers the chance to see historical and cultural sites as well. On the coast of the Atlantic, the colonial town of Lüderitz and the ghost town of Kolmanskop retain much of Namibia's German history. The mining industry is the focus of the town of Tsumeb, and Walvis Bay offers many desert sports for adventure enthusiasts. In addition, the Skeleton Coast is freckled with shipwrecks caused by thick fog along this desert coastline.
The largest city in Namibia is its capital, Windhoek. Hosea Kutako International Airport, 45 minutes outside the city, is a common arrival point for most international travelers on a vacation in Namibia. A trip that is less than three months long does not require an entry visa for citizens of most countries. Once within the country, most domestic Namibia travel is done primarily by bus and train. Most Namibian towns and cities offer a variety of accommodations, typically with a communal breakfast room. The official currency is the Namibian dollar, though the South African Rand is widely accepted.
The official language of Namibia is English, but travelers on vacation in Namibia may encounter many different indigenous languages. Among the younger Namibians, English is widely understood, but most of the natives educated before the country's independence speak only a little English. Other common languages you may encounter on a Namibia holiday are Afrikaans, Oshiwambo, Khoisan click languages, and German.
Namibia travel requires that you heed some precautions. Although Namibia is not currently involved in any wars, racial tensions aren't uncommon among the native people. Namibia also has a high crime rate, influenced mostly by armed robberies, taxi scams, pickpockets, and driving under the influence. Namibian hospitals are clean, but the HIV infection rate of Namibian people is more than 15 percent, and the northern part of the country is a risk zone for malaria. On a Namibia holiday, the provided water supply is considered potable unless labeled otherwise, but anything that could have originated directly from a river is not.