10 random things I didn’t know about Namibia before getting here

  1. Namibia is four times wider than Romania , but it has ten times less people.
  2. Walvis Bay, the place I live for the moment, became a part of Namibia only a few years after the country gained its independence (Namibia became independent on the 20th of March 1990, while Walvis Bay only became part of Namibia on the 1st of March 1994). This is mainly because Walvis Bay is a strategic place – biggest port of Namibia.
  3. A lot of men are circumcised because of a study according to which there are less changes of contracting HIV if you’re circumcised. This is even an official policy ran by Ministry of Health and Social Services, there’s a target set, there are big posters around that say “Get the smart cut, it’s easy, safe and simple.”
  4. The Namibian dollar is set at the same value like the South African rand. One can also pay with rand in the supermarket, it might sometimes happen that you receive rand as change instead of Namibian dollars and that’s perfectly fine.
  5. If you ask people about how a traditional wedding looks like in Namibia, they would say that traditional weddings are not respected, some would even call them evil and start describing the Olufuko ritual. The word “olufuko” means wedding in Oshiwambo. The ritual is supposed to prepare young women for marriage and pregnancy. The youngest participants can even be 12 years old. There is an annual festival in Outapi themed around Olufuko. Here’s a short news report made by NBC, in case you want to know more about this ritual.
  6. The largest ethnic group in Namibia is Ovambo and their official language is Oshiwambo. But actually Oshiwambo is not considered a language in itself, but rather a “dialect cluster”. There are eight different tribes, each with their own dialect.
  7. The war for Namibian independence was mostly fought on Angolan territory.
  8. There are many uranium mines here. In fact, Namibia has a lot of natural resources: gold, copper, zinc, salt, diamonds, vanadium, you name it! Chances are you’ll be able to find it in Namibia. Unfortunately for their economy, it seems that most of the companies exploiting the natural resources are foreign companies (French, Chinese, South African, Russian, British etc.) and the contracts they have with the local governments are not always very advantageous for Namibia.
  9. Diamonds are not refined here, as Namibia has no technology for that. It seems that diamonds are sold to foreign companies who have the technology to refine them, hence only a small fraction of the final price goes to Namibia. Even so, diamond mining remains one of the largest contributors to Namibia’s economy in terms of revenue.
  10. Chinese companies have a bad reputation in Namibia. They are said to fire people for no reason, pay low wages and often not on time, communication is difficult. On top of that, many scandals related to killed elephants or rhinos end up leading back to Chinese people.

Tell me, how many of these facts did you already know?

Photo via Visual Hunt

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