Foreign policy and defense
Namibia has good relations with the outside
world. The ties are particularly strong to countries in
the region that have similar experience of liberation
war. The relationship is extra cordial even to states
that supported the freedom struggle, such as Russia,
China and Cuba. Namibia has strong ties to South Africa
for historical reasons.
Relations with South Africa, the region's economic
giant, have been uncomplicated since the fall of the
apartheid regime in 1994. That same year, South Africa
handed over control of the port territory of Walvis Bay,
which the South Africans had retained as an enclave at
Namibia's independence in 1990. Four years later, in
1997, Namibia's national debt was written off to South
Africa. The countries, on the other hand, have not
agreed on the boundary line along the Orange River.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Namibia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
More complicated is the relationship with Germany
that ruled Namibia as a colony in 1884-1915, that is,
before the area was occupied by South Africa. The Herero
and Nama people were subjected to genocide by the
Germans who massacred tens of thousands of Herero and
Nama as punishment for rebelling against colonial power
(see Ancient History). Today, herero and nama are
running a campaign to get an official apology from
Germany as well as damages (read more in the Calendar).
With Botswana, the relationship was previously
somewhat strained due to the unrest in the Zambezi Strip
(see Modern History) and a border dispute in the Chobe /
Linyanti river, but both conflicts have been resolved.
The political ties are not so strong, as Botswana has
not gained its independence through armed struggle. In
Botswana there is also resistance to Namibian plans to
divert water from and possibly build a power plant in
the Okavango River, which flows through the Zambezi
Strip on its way to Botswana where it culminates in a
huge inland delta.
Strong ties to Angola and Zimbabwe
Angola supported Swapo during the freedom struggle,
which contributes to close relations. Following the
peace agreement in Angola in 2002, it has also been
quiet along the border. In the past, border intermezzo
existed. The unit army in Angola plundered into Namibia,
and the Angolan army sometimes pursued rebels into
Namibian soil. In 2003, 20,000 Angolan refugees were
able to return home from Namibia, with UN assistance.
The ties are strong even to Zimbabwe. The two
countries' now state-carrying parties and previous
liberation movements, Swapo and Zanu-PF, have similar
experiences and political background. Namibian "country
father" Sam Nujoma and Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe are
close friends. Some Swap ministers have expressed their
support for the disputed land reform in Zimbabwe
2000–2002. However, the government has maintained that
all land transfers in Namibia should be legal.
Namibia is a member of the African Union (AU) and of
the regional cooperation organization SADC (Southern
African Development Community), which consists of 15
countries in southern Africa. The goal of SADC is to
create a common market and mediate conflicts.
Five of the 15 SADC countries are also members of the
Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which has its
secretariat in Windhoek. There are plans for SADC and
two other regional cooperation bodies to form a free
trade area that covers southern and eastern Africa, all
the way up to Egypt ("from Cape Town to Cairo").
However, it will take some time before such is in place.
Modern defense force
When the SADC in 1998 failed to mediate in the
Congo-Kinshasa conflict, Namibia and Zimbabwe and Angola
intervened on the side of Congolese President Laurent
Kabila. Namibia sent close to 2,000 soldiers and was
forced to take extra money from the state budget for the
campaign. In 2001, almost the entire Namibian squad was
One problem after independence in 1990 was to form a
national army of Swapo soldiers and members of the
colonial defense force formed by South Africa. The
integration went unexpectedly well. Among other things,
with the support of the British military, a modern
defense force was created. Many former Swapo soldiers
are also part of the country's semi-military police
FACTS - DEFENSE
9,000 men (2017)
900 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
3.4 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
8.8 percent (2017)
Germany submits skulls from genocide
Germany returns 20 skulls that come from victims of the genocide of herero
and nama in the early 20th century (see Older History). A government official
says that a "tragic chapter" in the country's history has now ended, but many
Namibians believe that Germany should be required to pay damages.
Oil barrels found outside Namibia
Mining and Energy Minister Isak Katali confirms earlier information that oil
reserves estimated at 11 billion barrels have been found off the coast of
The hunt for jobs continues
After the official unemployment rate has risen to more than 50 percent, the
government is launching a two-year growth program aimed at creating thousands of
new jobs in transport, tourism, construction and agriculture.
Court claims fraud
A Windhoek court ruled that the 2009 election results are valid. At the same
time, the Court strongly criticizes Namibia's electoral commission for lack of
organization. The judges also call for a review of the country's electoral law.
The opposition parties who have appealed the result take the case to the Supreme