Windhoek (pronEng|ˈvɪnthʊk, sometimes in _de. Windhuk) is the
capitaland largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in the central Khomas Region, has a population of approx. 280,000 and is a major trade centre of sheepskin. It sits on a sloping plain on the northern side of the Khomas Hochland (Khomas Highlands) at an altitude of 1665 metres. Windhoek was originally inhabited by the Herero, then became the centre of a Nama chief who defeated the Herero in the 19th century. Germanyoccupied the region in 1885, and the city became the seat of colonial rule in 1892 as the capital of the colony of German South-West Africa(Deutsch-Südwestafrika). During World War IWindhoek was captured by South African troops and became a South African Mandate under the League of Nations. Until the independence of Namibia was inaugurated in 1990, Windhoek was recognised as the capital city of South West Africaas administered by the South African government. It continues today as the capital city of the Republic of Namibia.
The city of Windhoek is traditionally known by two names: Ai-Gams, from the Nama people, which literally refers to the hot springs that were once part of Windhoek, while the second name, Otjomuise, meaning a place of steam, was given by the
Hereropeople. Both traditional names reference the hot springs.
The early settlements of Windhoek came about because of the water from the hot springs. In the mid-1800s
Captain Jan Jonker Afrikanersettled near one of the main hot springs, located in the present-day Klein-Windhoek, an upper-class suburb of Windhoek. Theories vary on how Ai-Gams/Otjomuise got its modern name of Windhoek. Most believe the name Windhoek is derived from the Afrikaansword Wind-Hoek, meaning "corner of wind". It is also thought that the Afrikaners named Windhoek after the Winterhoek Mountains, at Tulbaghin South Africa, where the early Afrikaner settlers had lived. In those days Windhoek was the point of contact between the warring Namas, led by Jan Jonker Afrikaner, and the Herero people.
In Windhoek, Afrikaners built a stone church that held 500 people, which was also used as a school. Two Rhenish
missionaries, Hugo Hahnand Heinrich Kleinschmidt, started working there in the 1840s and were later succeeded by two Wesleyans. Gardens were laid out and for a while Windhoek prospered, but wars between the Nama and Hereroeventually destroyed the town. After a long absence, Hahn visited Windhoek again in 1873 and was dismayed to see that nothing remained of the town's former prosperity. Fact|date=March 2008 In June 1885, a Swiss botanistfound only jackalsand starving guinea fowlamongst neglected fruit trees. Fact|date=March 2008
In 1878, Britain annexed
Walvis Bayand incorporated it into the Cape of Good Hopein 1884, but Britain did not extend its influence into the hinterland. A request by merchants from Lüderitzbucht resulted in the declaration of a German protectorateover German West Africain 1884. The German colony came into being with the determination of its borders in 1890 and Germany sent a protective corps, called the Schutztruppeunder Major Curt von François, to maintain order. Von François stationed his garrison at Windhoek, which was strategically situated as a buffer between the Nama and Herero, while the twelve strong springs provided water for the cultivation of food.
Present-day Windhoek was founded on
18 October 1890, when Von François fixed the foundation stone of the fort, which is now known as the Alte Feste (Old Fortress). During the next fourteen years Windhoek developed slowly, with only the most essential government and private buildings being erected. In Klein-Windhoek, plots were allocated to settlers, who started farming on a small scale with fruit, tobacco and dairy cattle.
After 1907, development accelerated as people migrated from the countryside to the city and also some immigrated from outside the country. There was also a larger influx of European settlers arriving from
Germanyand South Africa. Businesses were erected on Kaiser Street, present Independence Avenue, and along the dominant mountain ridge over the city, including the three eye-catching castles.
The German colonial era came to an end during
World War Iwhen South African troops occupied Windhoek in May 1915 on behalf of the British Empire. For the next five years, a military government administered South West Africa. Development of the city of Windhoek and the nation later to be known as Namibiacame to a virtual standstill. After World War II, Windhoek's development gradually gained momentum, as more capital became available to improve the area's economic climate. After 1955, large public projects were undertaken, such as the building of new schools and hospitals, hardening of the city's roads (a project begun in 1928), and the building of dams and pipelines to finally stabilize the water supply. It also introduced the World's first potable re use plant in 1958, treating recycled sewage and sending it directly into the town's water supply.Fact|date=May 2008
With Namibia's independence from
South African administration in 1990, the city experienced accelerated growth and development. Windhoek became the seat of the first, democratically-elected government of the Republic of Namibia, headed by the president, Sam Nujoma.
Windhoek is twinned with the German capital
Berlin(since 2000), Trossingen, Germanyand has a partnership with Wetzlar, Germany
Windhoek is connect by rail to
Transportation in the city
In 1928, Kaiserstraße, now Independence Avenue, was the first paved road in Windhoek. Ten years later the next one, Gobabis road, now Sam Nujoma Drive, was also paved. Today out of ca. 40,000 km of Namibia's total road network, about 5000 km is sealed.
Windhoek's three main access roads from Rehoboth,
Gobabis, and Okahandjaare paved, and are designed to be able to withstand the largest possible flood to be expected in fifty years. Sealed roads can carry traffic moving at 120 km/h and should last for 20 years.
Windhoek has two
airports: Eros on its outskirts for smaller craft, and Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport42 km east of the city. A number of foreign airlines operate to and from Windhoek. Air charters and helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft rentals are also available.
Taxis are available during the day but seldom at night. Fares are fixed (only two price categories exist within the city of Windhoek) based on the larger area of destination.
Windhoek International Airport (WDH)
Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport, situated 45 kilometres outside Windhoek, handles well over 400,000 passengers a year. It has one runway without capacity limitations. Other international airports are located in Walvis Bay and Luderitz. It directly connects up to 5 times per week to the following airports: London 2 times a week Frankfurt 5 times a week. Southern Africa's hub, Johannesburg, is only a two-hour flight away, from where it is possible to connect to over 50 cities. South African Airways, LTU, and Air Namibiaall have daily flights to Windhoek International Airport, whilst TAAG Angola Airlineshas bi-weekly turnarounds to Luanda.
Eros Airportis the busiest airport in Namibia in terms of take offs and landings. This city airport handles around 12,000 individual flights a year, the majority of which are light aircraft. Primarily, limitations such as runway length, noise, and air space congestion have kept Eros from developing into a larger airport. Most of Namibia's charter operators have Eros as their base.
Windhoek is situated in a
semi-desertclimatic region. Days are mostly warm with very hot days during the summermonths, while nights are generally cool. The average annual temperature is 19.47°C, which is high for a site at such a high altitude on the edge of the tropics [Average for years 1957-1987, Goddard Institute of Space Studies World Climate database ] . This is mainly due to the prevalence of a warm northerly airflow and the mountains to the south, which shelter the city from cold southerly winds.
wintermonths of June, July and August usually experience very little rain. Minimum temperatures range between 5°C (41°F) to 18°C (64°F). Nights are usually cool, although the temperature seldom drops below 0°C, and it almost never snows. Days are usually hot to very hot, varying from a maximum of 20°C in July to 31°C in January.
Mean annual rainfall is around 360mm, which is too low to support crops or gardens without heavy use of watering. The natural vegetation of the area is scrub and steppe.
Droughts are a regular occurrence; dry and wet years run through a cycle that lasts around 10 years.
* [http://www.windhoekcc.org.na Official homepage of the City of Windhoek - Windhuk]
* [http://www.republikein.com.na Die Republikein, Namibian newspaper in Afrikaans]
* [http://www.az.com.na Allgemeine Zeitung Namibias, Namibian newspaper in German]
* [http://www.namibian.com.na The Namibian, newspaper in English]
* [http://www.namibiaweather.info Current Windhoek Weather and Webcams for Windhoek]
* [http://www.namibiaonline.net/webcam_windhoek_namibia.html 2 WebCams showing Windhoek and weather]
* [http://www.avisdam.org Website of Friends of AvisDam (FoA)]
* [http://www.fallingrain.com/world/WA/40/Windhoek.html FallingRain Map - elevation = 1721m]
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