About 22% of the country is classified as desert
Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara, situated at the interface between different climate systems. Highly variable climatic conditions are the norm, and the country experiences frequent dry-spells and droughts with sporadic occurrences of flooding in river basins.
Overall, about 22% of the country is classified as desert, 70% as arid (i.e. too dry to support vegetation) and semi-arid, and less than 8% as dry sub-humid.
Most of Namibia receives summer rainfall
Namibia is an arid (i.e. too dry to support vegetation) to semi-arid country with scarce and unpredictable rainfall and the average annual rainfall is 250 millilitres per year. Most of Namibia receives summer rainfall, except for the south-western part that receives some winter rainfall. Currently, of the water that falls as rainfall in Namibia, 83% evaporates, 1% recharges groundwater and 14% returns to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, with only 2% remaining for runoff and potential surface water storage.
Namibia is characterised by high temperatures.
Most of the country receives an annual average of more than nine hours of sunlight per day. Daytime air temperatures are generally warm but due to low humidity and outgoing long wave radiation at night, minimum temperatures can drop to below freezing point in winter. The north and south of the country experience the highest temperatures with the average maximum for the hottest month being over 34°C. The southern Kalahari experiences the lowest temperatures with the average minimum for the coldest month being less than 2°C.
Only 2% of the country’s total surface area is suitable for growing crops
Namibia is located in south-western Africa and covers land areas of 825,418 km2. It has a coastline of 1500km stretching along the South Atlantic Ocean. Namibia is mostly semi-arid, as such, crop production is second to livestock in importance due to low rainfall that favours the predominant presence of perennial grass species which are resistant to moisture stress. Only 2% of the country’s total surface area is suitable for growing crops, 46% is suitable for permanent natural grazing, 22% is forest and the remaining 30% is arid.
A population of 2.1 million people
Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and has one of the lowest population densities in the world with an average of about 2.5 people per km2. About 62% of Namibians are living in rural areas and depend heavily on rain-fed agriculture, which is highly vulnerable to changes in climate, seasonal shifts and precipitation patterns.
Namibia is rich in natural resources
The economy of Namibia is highly dependent on its endowment of natural resources including diverse rangelands, arable land, mineral deposits, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Namibia is rich in natural resources such as uranium, zinc, copper, lead, gold, silver, tin, marble and granite. The mining industry brings in half of the country’s foreign earnings. Farming is the second most important industry and many Namibians work in this sector. The coastal waters of Namibia are also rich in fish and Fisheries is a key sector in the country. Tourism is also an important contributor to the economy with the main attractions including Namibia’s stunning unspoiled landscapes and its wildlife.
Learn about the regional profile for all regions in the country.
© 2017 Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia