Useful Information about Namibia

Namibia – Land of contrasts

After years of foreign rule Namibia got its Independence on the 21st of March 1990. The influences of the different nations left significant traces on Namibian soil. This can clearly be seen in the different architecture styles and languages which are apparent in Namibia.

The people on the streets reflect the energy and happiness of the all-year round shining sun. They are happy, laughing, singing and talking to one another whilst the economic routine carries on. The onlooker gets the impression that in Namibia hectic does not exist.

Namibia has lots to offer from its jewel case. The impressions which the visitor gets from a journey through Namibia’s fascinating landscapes will stay forever engraved in your memory. The climate, landscape, fauna and flora are totally different in each region. Each of the regions has its own charm and attraction.

General Information:

The total surface area of Namibia consists of app. 824 268 km². Of this surface area about 15% were allocated as National Parks. In Namibia the total population counts to 2.1 million people (last official census). This calculates to 2.5 people per square kilometre.
More than 322 500 people live in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. The highest mountain is the ‘Königsstein’ in the Brandberg Mountain which is 2 573 meters in altitude. Namibia has only permanent rivers at its boarders. These rivers are the Kunene River, Okavango-, Kwando-, Linyanti-, Chobe- and Zambezi River which form the north western-, northern – and north-eastern boarders of Namibia. The southern boarder runs along the Orange- or Gariep River. Namibia’s neighbours are from the north clockwise Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. To the west of the country is the Atlantic Ocean.

Population
Approx 2.1 million people live in Namibia,(2006), it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world with a population density of just 2.2 people per square kilometre. Life expectancy is around 51 years. Population rate is growing at 2.6% per year over the past 15 years. It is estimated that 21% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS.  Literacy rate is just over 84%.  The exact population of Windhoek is difficult to define at any time due to continual growth of informal settlements as people flock from rural areas to the city but it is now thought to have recently broken through the third of a million mark (approx 330,000).

Currency
Namibia's currency is the Namibian Dollar (NAD), and this has been interchangeable with South Africa's Rand for many years. Note that South African Rand notes can be used in Namibia at face value; whereas in South Africa Namibian Dollar notes are worth fractionally less than Rand notes. Foreign currency may be exchanged at banks; most shops, hotels and restaurants take credit cards (Visa & M/card), although petrol stations require cash. Credit and debit cards can also be used to withdraw cash at bank ATMs.

Visas  
Travellers from Germany, England, Switzerland etc., staying less than 90 days, do not need a visa when travelling to Namibia. Please ensure that you have at least 2 empty pages left in your passport and that the passport is still valid for at least 6 months after the day of departure. Check on the stamp given to you on the day of arrival, that the visa period is not shorter than you intended stay.

Time zone
During the winter months, lasting from the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in September, Namibia is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+1), and one hour behind the time of its neighbouring countries South Africa and Botswana. During the summer month, Namibia is two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2). The exception to this is the Caprivi Strip, which is two hours ahead of GMT all year round.

Language
English is the official language, but German, Afrikaans, Oshiwambo and many tribal languages (including Kwangali, Lozi, Nama and Tswana) are also spoken.

Telephone
The international dialling code for Namibia is +264; area codes are also used. Calling from Namibia, you dial 00, followed by the relevant country code.

Roads
Distances are great, but the region has some of the finest roads in Africa. Traffic is light; driving is on the left and normally a pleasure. The main roads are tarmac and the gravel roads in more remote areas are well maintained.

Health requirements
Several vaccines are sensible (typhoid, polio and tetanus), though none is required. Malaria is not widespread, but if you are travelling to the north of the country, or from December to March, you should contact your doctor for recommendations. AIDS is prevalent in Namibia; HIV infection rates are high. For travellers, this is usually not an issue, but they should always be aware of the situation, and take similar precautions to avoid infection which are wise in most countries.

Weather and climate  
Namibia's climate is generally very hot and dry, with little rain, so it's good to visit all year round.

Fauna
Big game - elephant, lion, rhino (including the endangered black rhino), buffalo, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, wild dog
240 mammal species
250 reptile species
50 frog species
over 630 bird species
Endemic birds include - Herero chat; rockrunner, Damara tern, Monteiro's Hornbill