People and culture
Recent statistics (the preliminary findings of the 2001 census) suggest that Namibia's population stands at about 1,827,000 and has increased by around 29% over the last decade. That's a growth rate of a little less than 3% per year. If this rate continues, the population can be expected to be over 3 million by around 2020. The population is densest in the north (near the Angolan border), where rainfall is heaviest.
About 44% of Namibia's population is under 15 years of age, whilst only 4% is over 65.
Statistics indicate that the average life expectancy for a Namibian is 65 years. Around 86% of the population is black African in origin, and the remaining 14% is mostly of European or mixed race.
Namibia's doctor/patient ratio is one of the best in Africa, with one doctor for every 3,650 people. There are about five hospital beds per 1,000 people, which is the third best ratio in Africa.
However, the statistics say nothing of the charm of many Namibians, and if you venture into the rural areas you will often find that Namibians are curious about you. Chat to them openly and you will find most to be delightful. They will be pleased to help you where they can, and as keen to help you learn about them and their country as they are interested in your lifestyle and what brings you to their country.
A note on 'tribes'
The people of Africa are often viewed, from abroad, as belonging to a multitude of culturally and linguistically distinct 'tribes' – which are often portrayed as being at odds with each other. Whilst there is certainly an enormous variety of different ethnic groups in Africa, most are closely related to their neighbours in terms of language, beliefs and way of life. Modern historians eschew the simplistic tags of 'tribes', noting that such groupings change with time.
Sometimes the word tribe is used to describe a group of people who all speak the same language; it may be used to mean those who follow a particular leader or to refer to all the inhabitants of a certain area at a given time. In any case, 'tribe' is a vague word that is used differently for different purposes. The term 'clan' (blood relations) is a smaller, more precisely defined, unit – though rather too precise for our broad discussions here.
Certainly groups of people or clans who share similar languages and cultural beliefs do band together and often, in time, develop 'tribal' identities. However, it is wrong to then extrapolate and assume that their ancestors will have had the same groupings and allegiances centuries ago.
In Africa, as elsewhere in the world, history is recorded by the winners. Here the winners, the ruling class, may be the descendants of a small group of intruders who achieved dominance over a larger, long-established community. Over the years, the history of that ruling class (the winners) usually becomes regarded as the history of the whole community, or tribe. Two 'tribes' have thus become one, with one history – which will reflect the origins of that small group of intruders, and not the ancestors of the majority of the current tribe.