A Brief History of Namibia

By Tim Lambert

Early Namibia

In the year 1487, a Portuguese named Bartholomew Diaz reached what is now Namibia. However, Europeans showed little interest in Namibia until the 19th century because there was a desert along its coast.

However, in 1884 Namibia became a German colony. Yet at first, the Germans showed little interest in Namibia. The number of German settlers gradually increased until 1904 when the Herero people rose in rebellion. However, the Germans brutally suppressed the uprising. The Nama people in Namibia began a guerrilla war but by 1907 they had been defeated, again with great brutality.

In 1915, during the First World War, the South Africans captured Namibia. After the war former German colonies were given to the Allied powers and called mandates. Namibia was made a British mandate. It was to be administered by South Africa.

Modern Namibia

In 1966 SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) began a long guerrilla war in Namibia. Finally, in 1988 South Africa agreed to allow Namibia to become independent. A constitution was written and Namibia became independent on 21 March 1990.

Today Namibia is still a poor country but its economy is growing steadily. Namibia depends heavily on the export of minerals. In 2024 the population of Namibia was 2.7 million.


Last revised 2024