Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the east, and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990 following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek (German: Windhuk). Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), the Commonwealth of Nations and many other international organisations. It has been given many names: the land of contrasts, the land God made in anger, the ageless land. For many years it was known only as South West Africa, but it adopted the name Namibia, after the Namib Desert. It is the second most sparsely populated country in the world, after Mongolia.
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD, by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. It was visited by the British and Dutch missionaries during the late 18th century, but became a German protectorate in 1884. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated the country to South Africa, which imposed their laws and apartheid policy. In 1966, uprisings and demands by African leaders led the United Nations to assume direct responsibility over the territory, changing the name to Namibia in 1968 and recognizing South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) as official representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia, however, remained under South African administration during this time. Following internal violence, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990.
Namibia has a population of 1.8 million people and a stable multiparty parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and mining of precious stones and metals form the backbone of Namibia's economy. About half the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. The nation has suffered heavily from the effects of HIV/AIDS. In fact, 15% of the adult population lived with HIV in 2007.
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