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Introduction

Namibia is a beautiful country of natural landscapes that offers plenty to do for the real adventurer. While many people visit Namibia's game parks and wildlife reserves to check out the country's animals, adventure seekers can take advantage of opportunities to river raft and canoe the Orange River. Other excellent weekend or day trips include horseback rides and hiking at the Waterberg Plateau or Naukluft Mountains. Finally, Namibia's dunes are worth the long trek up for the wonderful view.

The nomadic San and the farming Khoikhoi first dominated the land that is Namibia today. Namibia's rough coasts offered protection against initial European incursions and it was not until the late 19th century that Germany annexed Namibia. South Africa took control of the territory during World War I.  Resistance against the apartheid government was organized by the South West African People's Organization (Swapo), and after years of struggle South Africa agreed to the terms and conditions set by the United Nations. This provided for Namibia's autonomy in 1990. Elections made Sam Nujoma as the nation's first president, followed by Hifikepunye Pohamba in polls in 2005.

Namibia is home to 2.1 million people. The majority practice Christianity. The official language is English, but other languages spoken in Namibia include Oshiwambo, Herero, Nama, Afrikaans and German. Namibia is home to more than a dozen ethnic groups. The largest group is the Owambo, but other smaller ethnic groups include Kavango, Herero, Himba, Damara, Nama and Basters. There is a long tradition of music and dance along with visual art and architecture in Namibia. Popular Namibian musicians are Tembo Masala and Joseph Madisia. Popular foods in Namibia include mielie pap, which is corn-meal porridge, and mahango, another name for the porridge. Both are eaten with fish, goat, lamb or stew. Popular beverages include mataku, a watermelon wine, and walende, a distilled palm spirit.

There are several major airlines that fly directly to the capital, Windhoek, from various African countries, Europe and the United States, but many travelers prefer to fly to South Africa and then fly or travel overland to Namibia. South African Airways and Air Namibia fly primarily from South Africa but they also have regular flights from Victoria Falls, Lusaka, Maun and Gaborone. Several bus lines offer international routes to Windhoek and driving yourself is also an alternative, as the roads are in very good condition. Getting around Namibia can be done in a number of ways: taxi or minibus, rental cars or buses.

There are a number of fine resorts worth checking into. One is the four-star Windhoek Country Club Resort, which offers excellent restaurants and bars, and a fantastic view of the city. The resort is located near a championship 18-hole golf course. Another fine resort is the Heinitzburg Hotel in Windhoek, located in a grand castle. Amenities include a fine restaurant, a spacious and comfortable lounge area, beautifully decorated and spacious guest rooms, and a swimming pool. Windhoek and other tourist areas also offer lodges for travelers with more modest means.


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