Namibia, with a land area of 824 292 km2, is the 34th largest country in the world. It is bordered by the Republic of South Africa in the south; Angola and Zambia in the north; Botswana and Zimbabwe in the east and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Namibia achieved Independence on 21 March 1990, following more than a century of colonial rule, initially under Germany from 1884, and then South Africa from 1915 through to Independence. Namibia has a multi-party system of government with a constitution based largely on Roman Dutch law, and a bicameral legislature consisting of the National Assembly and the National Council. The country holds elections every five years, with the next elections due in 2018. Namibia has a small, open economy which is largely dependent on the extraction, and limited processing, of minerals for the export market.
Namibia produces gem-quality diamonds and is the fourth largest producer of uranium in the world. It also produces zinc, gold, copper and other non-fuel minerals. Although the extractive industry, which is highly capital intensive, accounts for a third of export revenue, it provides direct employment to only an estimated 1.8 percent of the labour force. Namibia exports mostly diamonds (25 percent of total exports), uranium, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten, food and animals on hoof, and manufactured products predominantly to South Africa (27 percent of total exports), the United Kingdom (17 percent of total exports), the USA, Angola, the Netherlands and Spain. It imports food products, petroleum products and fuel, machinery and equipment and chemicals, mainly from South Africa (66 percent of total imports), followed by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and China.Namibia is classified as a lower middle-income country with an average per capita income of around USD 1,800 per annum. However, the country which ranks 128 of 177 countries on the Human Development Indexes still bears the consequences of the social and economic inequalities inherited from the apartheid system of colonial South Africa, and inequality in the distribution of income and assets is among the highest in the world.
The Government bases its economic and social policies on the long-term national Vision, within which Namibia aspires to become an industrialized and developed nation by 2030. Since Independence in 1990 a series of National Development Plans, have sought to: revive and sustain economic growth; reduce inequality; create employment; eradicate poverty; promote gender equality and equity; reduce regional inequalities; ensure environmental sustainability, and; combat HIV/AIDS.
Economic growth remains subdued but macro-economic policies remain cautious in light of Namibia’s vulnerability to external factors such as exchange rate volatility, adverse weather patterns, expected reductions in customs revenues, as well as increasing levels of public debt. According to the national MDG report, Namibia has made great progress in the provision of health, education and other critical services. However, Namibia still faces a ‘triple threat’ in responding to the combination of the devastating HIV/AID S pandemic, high levels of food insecurity and income poverty at household level, and weakening capacities for governance and delivery of social services.