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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Namibian(s).
Population (2001 est.): 1.8 million.
Annual growth rate (2001 est.): 1.4%. (Note: the population growth rate is depressed by an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate estimated to be 23%.
Ethnic groups: Black 87%; white 6%; mixed race 7%.
Religions: Predominantly Christian; also indigenous beliefs.
Languages: English (official); Afrikaans, German, various indigenous languages.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16. Attendance--whites nearly 100%; others 16%. Literacy--whites nearly 100%; others 30%.
Work force (2000 est.): 200,000.
People of Namibia
Namibians are of diverse ethnic origins. The principal groups are the Ovambo, Kavango, Herero/Himba, Damara, mixed race ("colored" and Rehoboth Baster), white (Afrikaner, German, and Portuguese), Nama, Caprivian (Lozi), Bushman, and Tswana.
The Ovambo make up about half of Namibia's people. The Ovambo, Kavango, and East Caprivian peoples, who occupy the relatively well-watered and wooded northern part of the country, are settled farmers and herders. Historically, these groups had little contact with the Nama, Damara, and Herero, who roamed the central part of the country vying for control of sparse pastureland. German colonial rule destroyed the warmaking ability of the tribes but did not erase their identities or traditional organization. People from the more populous north have settled throughout the country in recent decades as a result of urbanization, industrialization, and the demand for labor.
The modern mining, farming, and industrial sectors of the economy, controlled by the white minority, have affected traditional African society without transforming it. Urban and migratory workers have adopted Western ways, but in rural areas, traditional society remains intact.
Missionary work during the 1800s drew many Namibians to Christianity. While most Namibian Christians are Lutheran, there also are Roman Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, African Methodist Episcopal, and Dutch Reformed Christians represented.
Modern education and medical care have been extended in varying degrees to most rural areas in recent years. The literacy rate of Africans is generally low except in sections where missionary and government education efforts have been concentrated, such as Ovamboland. The Africans speak various indigenous languages.
The minority white population is primarily of South African, British, and German descent. About 60% of the whites speak Afrikaans (a variation of Dutch), 30% speak German, and 10% speak English.