The term 'Coloured' is generally used in southern Africa to describe people of mixed (black-white) origin. These Coloured people maintain a strong sense of identity and separateness from either blacks or whites – though they generally speak either Afrikaans or English (or frequently both) rather than an ethnic 'African' language. They are very different in culture from any of Namibia's ethnic groups, white or black.
Most Coloureds in Namibia live in the urban areas – Windhoek, Keetmanshoop and Lüderitz. Those in Walvis Bay are mainly fishermen, and some in the south are stock farmers. Their traditional crafts centre mainly on musical instruments, like drums and guitars.
The first whites to settle in Namibia were the Germans who set up trading businesses around the port of Lüderitz in 1884. Within a few years, Namibia formally became a German colony, and German settlers began to arrive in ever-increasing numbers. Meanwhile, white farmers of Dutch origin (the Boers, who first settled on the African continent at the Cape in 1652), were moving northwards in search of land free from British interference, following the cession of the Dutch Cape Colony to the British government.
Following the transfer of German Namibia to South African control after World War I, Boers (Afrikaners) moved into Namibia, and soon significantly outnumbered the German settlers. The Namibian whites collectively refer to themselves as 'Southwesters' after Namibia's colonial name of South West Africa.
Namibians of European descent live mainly in urban, central and southern parts of the country – though they also own and run most of the commercial farming operations. Virtually all of the tourism industry is managed by white Namibians. They came as missionaries, traders and hunters, though are now found throughout the economy. Perhaps a legacy of colonialism, they are normally amongst the more affluent members of society.
The crafts currently produced by the whites include leatherwork (shoes, handbags, belts), German Christmas and Easter decorations, needlework (including embroidery, patchwork and clothing), printed T-shirts, costume jewellery, greeting cards and various classical European art-forms.
Distinct from white Namibians, there is a significant 'expat' community in Namibia. These foreigners usually come to Namibia for two or three years, to work on short-term contracts, often for either multinational companies or aid agencies. Most are highly skilled individuals who come to share their knowledge with Namibian colleagues – often teaching skills that are in short supply in Namibia.