Republic of. Country in south-west Africa. It has an area of 824,269 km² and a population of 1.73 million (2000 estimate). European colonial influence in south-west Africa began in 1847, with the activities of the Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft, gradually arousing German interest until the formal establishment of German authority over the territory in 1884. Formal declaration of independence of the new nation of Namibia occurred in 1990.
Namibia is scarcely populated; the southern half is largely desert, and the rural population is found mainly in a narrow strip in the north, bordering Angola.
The diversified population's languages fall into three groups: (a) Bantu languages; (b) Khoisan languages such as Nama, Damara, !Ko, !Kung’ etc. (fig.1); and (c) Indo-European languages (German, Afrikaans etc.). Some population elements form clusters with subdivisions. During the era of South African apartheid 12 ethnic groups were officially distinguished.