Namibia is a rich and diverse melting pot of different cultures, which speak of its varying history. The country has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia, with the majority being black African – mostly of the Ovambo ethnicity. Ovambo people form about half of the total population. Most reside in the north of the country, although many are now moving to towns throughout Namibia in a period of urbanisation. The Herero and Himba people, who speak a similar language, and the Damara, who speak the same “click” language as the Nama, are other ethnic Bantu groups of Namibia.
There are also large groups of Khoisan, including the Nama, who arefrom South Africa in 1990. descendants of the original inhabitants of southern Africa. The country is also home to descendants of refugees from Angola. There are two smaller groups of people with mixed racial origins, who together make up 6.5%.
The population is made up of 7% of white people of Portuguese, Dutch, German, British and French ancestry, and most speak Afrikaans.
Around 9% of the population is made up of the Kavango ethnic group. Other ethnic groups are: Herero 7%, Damara 7%, Nama 5%, Caprivian 4%, San 3%, Baster 2%, and Tswana 0.5%.
Namibia’s official language is English and until 1990, German and Afrikaans were also official languages. However, SWAPO had decided that Namibia should be monolingual before independence, in direct contrast to South Africa.
Some of the other languages received semi-official recognition and as a result are allowed as medium of instruction in primary schools.
Half of all Namibians speak Oshiwambo as their first language, whereas the most widely understood language is Afrikaans. The transition is evident in the younger generation who understand English more widely and both Afrikaans and English are used as a second language in public communication.
The majority of the white population speak German or Afrikaans.
Christianity is practiced by more than 90% of the population in Namibia as a result of the missionary work of the 1800s. Indigenous beliefs make up the remainder.
Most Namibian Christians are Lutheran, but there are also Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, African Methodist Episcopal, Dutch Reformed Christians and Mormon (Latter-Day Saints) represented, as well as some Jewish people.
The education system in Namibia is commendable. The country has compulsory free education for 10 years per child between the ages of six and 16. Primary level is from Grades 1–7 and Secondary level is from grades 8–12. Increasing numbers of children are attending schools; however there has been a shortage of teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio in 1999 was estimated at 32:1, with about 8% of the GDP being spent on education. According to UNICEF, Primary school attendance was 89% between the years 2005 and 2009 and the adult literacy rate was 88% between the years 2005 and 2008.
Most schools in Namibia are state-run, but there are also a few private schools on the country’s education system (St. Paul’s College, Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaatskool, Deutsche Höhere Privatschule, Windhoek International School and Windhoek Gymnasium). The National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) based in Okahandja, now organises curriculum development, educational research, and the professional development of teachers.
The problem of teacher shortage is being dealt with through the introduction of four teacher training colleges. There are also three agricultural colleges, a police training college, Polytechnic, and a National University.