Along with the Nama and the Bushmen, the Damara are presumed to be the original inhabitants of Namibia, speaking a similar 'Khoi' click language (Khoisan family). Like the Nama, the Damara were primarily hunting people, who owned few cattle or goats. Traditionally enemies of the Nama and Herero, they supported the German colonial forces at Waterberg against the Herero uprisings and were awarded for their loyalty by an 'enlarged' homeland from the German authorities: Damaraland, the area adjacent to the Skeleton Coast (now the southern part of the Kunene province). Of the 80,000 Damara today, only a quarter manage to survive in this area – the rest work on commercial farms, in mines or as labourers in the towns. Damara women share the same Victorian style of dress as the Herero and Nama women.
They make up about 7.5% of Namibia's population, sharing their language with Namas. Traditionally Damara people have been thought of as miners, smelters, copper traders, stock farmers and tobacco growers; until the end of the 19th century when they moved to Damaraland and started practising agriculture.
Their traditional crafts include leather goods, glass and metal beadwork, wooden bowls and buckets, clay pipes and bowls, and more recently 'township art' such as wire cars.