Preface Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:20 PM
A tour in Namibia provides an opportunity to serve in a dynamic,
multicultural country still grappling with the implications of its
colonial and apartheid past. Namibia offers a clean, modern capital
city, highly developed infrastructure, striking desert landscapes,
abundant wildlife, charming coastal towns, and endless opportunities
for recreation and adventure. The Embassy is active and collegial —
big enough to handle major visitors and policy challenges and small
enough to offer each employee variety and responsibility. Pleasant
housing, good schools, an English-speaking environment, and diverse
recreational and social options help ensure that families, as well
as employees, enjoy their tours.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:22 PM
Namibia is an arid country covering more than 320,000 square
miles, or about twice the size of California. It is bordered to the
west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the north by Angola, to the south by
South Africa, and to the east by Botswana; the Caprivi Strip juts
out to the northeast to touch both Zimbabwe and Zambia. Namibia has
four distinct geographic regions. The Namib Desert forms a 50- to
70-mile wide belt along the entire coastline. A semiarid and
mountainous plateau, varying in altitude from 3,000 to 6,000 feet,
covers the central part of the interior and includes Windhoek, the
The low-lying eastern and southeastern plains are extensions of
the dry Kalahari Region of Botswana and South Africa. The northern,
bush-covered plains include the relatively high rainfall areas of
the Kavango and the eastern Caprivi. Windhoek, the capital, has a
population of 282,300 and is at an altitude of 5,600 feet. This
altitude and the extreme dryness of the air can initially make
newcomers uncomfortable. Dryness and dust may persistently bother
those who wear contact lenses, exacerbate or provoke allergies or
respiratory problems, and cause extreme dryness of the skin.
The city itself is hilly and surrounded by sparsely vegetated
mountains, creating a landscape that calls to mind Arizona or New
Mexico. Indeed, with its bustling downtown commercial section,
good-quality roads and public services, and trim residential areas,
Windhoek proper could easily pass for a small, southwestern,
Namibia’s climate is typical of a semi-desert and high plateau
country, with hot days and cool nights. In mid-summer
(December–February), daytime temperatures can exceed 100°F in lower
elevations. In Windhoek, January average high temperatures are in
the 90s. Winter (May–September) sees daytime highs of about 70°F;
nights can be cold, dipping below freezing. Windhoek enjoys about
300 sunny days a year. Rains usually come from December through
March, peaking in February, for a yearly average rainfall of 12–16
inches in Windhoek. The unrelenting dryness of the rest of the year
makes the rains refreshing, welcome, and eagerly anticipated,
turning the mountains surrounding Windhoek green for the brief
Population Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:23 PM
With a total population of 1.8 million people, Namibia has one of
the world’s lowest population densities. The population growth rate
is high, at about 3%, although the United Nations estimates that
population growth will turn negative in 2005, due to the HIV
Some two-thirds of the population live in the north of the
country, in the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana, Otjikoto, Kavango, and
the Caprivi Region.The Ovambos constitute about half of the
population and are the largest single ethnic-linguistic group among
the black population, which also includes Kavangos, Hereros, Damaras,
Namas, Caprivians, San (or Bushmen), and Tswanas. Whites, mainly of
Afrikaner (South African Dutch), German, or English descent,
comprise 6% of the population. Afrikaans-speaking, mixed-race
peoples, such as the “Coloureds” and the Rehoboth Basters, make up
English is Namibia’s official language, but is very few
Namibians’ first tongue. Indigenous ethnic languages are the first
language of 90% of the population. Afrikaans is widely spoken;
German is also used extensively. The main indigenous languages are
Oshiwambo, spoken by the Ovambo; Kwangali, spoken by the Kavango;
Otjiherero, spoken by the Herero; Nama-Damara, a “click” language
spoken by both the Nama and Damara; Lozi spoken by Caprivians; and
Setswana, spoken by the Tswana.
Eighty to 90% of the population is Christian. Lutheran is the
predominant Christian faith. Ten to 20% of the population practices
Standards of living vary markedly among the population, largely
along racial lines — a vestige of the apartheid policies of
Namibia’s colonial past. Annual per capita income in Namibia exceeds
US$2,000 but the per capita income for many blacks is less than
US$200. In Windhoek, these imbalances are readily apparent when
crossing from the city’s well-to-do and predominantly white
neighborhoods into the black and mixed race former township areas of
Katutura and Khomasdal.
Namibia’s independence brought a substantial international
community to Windhoek; more than 30 nations and international
organizations are represented.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:25 PM
Namibia’s constitution established the new nation as a multiparty
democracy, with an elected President and bicameral legislature.
President Sam Nujoma was elected by the constituent assembly in 1989
to his first 5-year term, and was reelected by popular vote in
Namibia’s first post-independence general election in 1994. The
constitution was changed to allow Nujoma — as Namibia’s first
President — to run for a third term in the 1999 general election,
and he was reelected by an overwhelming margin. He will step down at
the end of his term in early 2005.
The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, and serves as
head of the Cabinet and Civil Service. Namibia has more than 40
Ministerial and Deputy Ministerial positions, as well as other
officials with Cabinet rank. All Ministers and Deputy Ministers must
be either voting or non-voting members of Parliament. One result is
that there are very few “backbenchers,” or ruling party
parliamentarians without Cabinet responsibility. The Ombudsman’s
Office, Office of the Auditor General and the Directorate of
Elections are independent entities.
The more powerful legislative house is the National Assembly. It
is comprised of 72 members elected on the basis of proportional
representation from among countrywide party slates and 6 non-voting
members appointed by the President. Members are elected for 5-year
terms and their election is contemporaneous with the presidential
election. The National Assembly has primary responsibility for
drafting and passing legislation. In the 1999 general election, the
ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) won 55 of the
72 voting seats, and thus, has the two-thirds majority needed to
pass constitutional amendments. Two opposition parties, the Congress
of Democrats (COD) and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), won
some 10% of the national vote and seven seats each. The United
Democratic Front won two seats and the Monitor Action Group secured
one seat. With support from the UDF, the DTA holds the position of
“Leader of the Opposition.”
The other legislative house is the National Council, comprising
26 members, two each chosen by regional councilors to represent each
of Namibia’s 13 regions. The regional councilors themselves are
directly elected by popular vote, so the National Council was
designed to be more reflective of popular sentiment at the local and
The National Council cannot vote down legislation, but can return
bills to the National Assembly for review.
The judiciary is independent and has full authority to review
laws for constitutionality. The Supreme Court hears constitutional
cases and is an ad hoc panel of two High Court judges and the Chief
Justice. The next highest judicial body, the High Court, is the
primary appellate body. Generally, citizens have initial contact
with the judicial branch through lower courts chaired by magistrates
or, in communal land areas, the traditional courts headed by
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:26 PM
With a culture combining German antecedents and deep African
roots, Windhoek offers its residents a diverse variety of cultural
experiences. The National Theater of Namibia presents concerts,
plays, film festivals, and various special events. The National
Symphony performs periodically as do other local groups, with
occasional visits from performing artists from the southern African
region and beyond. The Windhoek Youth Choir performs several times a
year, giving residents the opportunity to hear music with indigenous
African rhythms. The Warehouse Theater provides informal and
experimental entertainment in a coffeehouse setting.
Local private galleries feature exhibits by local and regional
artists. The State Museum focuses on the natural sciences (stones
and fossils) and indigenous cultures. The National Art Gallery, next
to the National Theater in downtown Windhoek, frequently features
special exhibits by local artists in addition to its permanent
collection of Namibian art. The Namibian Crafts Center and adjoining
Omba Gallery sell and exhibit Namibian handicrafts and artwork. The
Alte Feste (or Old Fort) Museum, Windhoek;s oldest building, was
formerly the garrison for the first contingent of German colonial
troops sent to Windhoek; it now houses a collection of historical
artifacts and photographs.
In addition to the Alte Feste, several other German colonial
buildings dating to the early 1900s add to the architectural
interest of downtown Windhoek. The historic seat of government,
known as the Tintenpalast [Ink Palace] now houses Namibia’s
Parliament. The historic Christuskirche church dominates a traffic
circle in front of the Alte Feste.
Namibia’s unique natural environment, featuring significant
populations of endangered species (such as cheetah and black rhino)
and the world’s oldest desert, the Namib, engenders many interesting
research initiatives. Several private American citizens are at the
forefront of these research efforts, particularly in animal
conservation and at an institute for study of the Namib Desert. The
Cheetah Conservation Fund, also run by an American, has received
international acclaim for its efforts to preserve Namibia’s cheetah
Windhoek’s adult educational opportunities are extensive and
relatively inexpensive. The University of Namibia, established in
1992, offers degree and non-degree instruction in English in law,
economics, management, arts, science, education, health sciences,
and Namibian languages. The Polytechnic of Namibia focuses more on
vocational and career- based training, and has recently become a
degree-granting institution. The College for the Arts offers
instruction in art, music, dance, and performance for adults and
children, as well as occasional student and faculty recitals. The
Franco-Namibian Cultural Center offers instruction in French and
Upgrading the availability and quality of education for the
non-white population is a priority of Namibia’s Government.
Qualified teachers, particularly those competent in English, Math
and Science, are in extremely short supply. Schools, particularly in
rural areas and the black townships, are overcrowded and lack
instructional materials. Government’s commitment to the provision of
universal primary education to all children has led to a 97%
enrolment rate for Namibian children, yet some children in poorer
areas of Windhoek and in some of the northern rural areas are
sometimes turned away from schools, because of a shortage of
teachers. This situation is being exacerbated by the AIDS epidemic.
Education is a major thrust of U.S. assistance to Namibia; the
U.S. Peace Corps provides teachers and teacher trainers. Education
is one of five focuses of USAID’s program in Namibia. The
Humanitarian Assistance Program of the DOD provides both financial
and in-kind assistance for the improvement of primary and secondary
education facilities in underprivileged population areas. The
Ambassador’s Self-Help Program, as well as the Embassy’s Democracy
and Human Rights Fund, have also been used in assisting Namibia to
meet its education goals. USAID is helping the Ministry of Basic
Education upgrade its staff capabilities, implement its policy
reform agenda and help mitigate the adverse impact of the AIDS
pandemic. In addition, Namibia has benefited from two interventions
under President Bush’s Africa Education Initiative, namely the
Ambassadors’ Girls Scholarship Program, as well as the Teacher
Program achievements to date include the training of nearly 2,500
teachers in the use of new instructional and assessment materials
and production of these materials in five local languages. USAID is
now shifting its focus to improving the quality of educational
systems and services provided to primary schools and to fostering
stronger community and parental involvement in the schools. USAID’s
education program is targeted at the northern areas of the country.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:26 PM
Namibia’s economy depends heavily on a few primary commodity
exports, such as diamonds, uranium, copper, lead, zinc, grapes,
livestock, and fish. A budding tourist sector has also emerged,
capitalizing on Namibia’s vast natural attractions. The economy
remains highly integrated with the Republic of South Africa, with
more than two-thirds of its imports coming from there. In addition,
well-developed telecommunications, power, and transport
infrastructures link the two countries.
Namibia has a strikingly dual economy, with the modem market
sector producing most of its wealth, but involving a small minority
of the population, and a traditional subsistence sector that barely
supports most of the population. Government economic policy is
geared primarily toward creating jobs in value-added manufacturing,
to lessen the economy’s dependence on resource extraction, and to
address chronic unemployment. Government priorities focus on
fisheries, mining, oil and gas, and export processing zone
development. Another focus of the Government is development of the
Port of Walvis Bay as the gateway to the region, exploiting the
port’s geographical advantage and the superior transport network
linking it to the industrial regions of South Africa and the
landlocked countries of southern Africa.
Namibia is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC), the region’s primary regional integration organization. SADC
has initiated a process to establish a free trade zone throughout
southern Africa. Namibia also belongs to the Southern African
Customs Union (SACU), along with South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho,
and Swaziland. South Africa collects the customs and excise duties
for all members, and then distributes a share of the total customs
collections, determined by an established formula, to other members.
Namibia is a member of the Rand Common Monetary Area (CMA), along
with South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland, and as such, the South
African rand is legal tender throughout Namibia. The Namibian
dollar, which is equal in value to the rand, is accepted only in
Automobiles Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:29 PM
Embassy personnel have no special problems licensing and
registering their vehicles. U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in
Namibia, and no other licenses (such as the AAA international
driver’s license) are needed. Unleaded and leaded gasoline and
diesel fuel are always available in Windhoek. Unleaded gasoline is
not always available in some remote areas of Namibia.
Roads in Windhoek are paved and kept in excellent condition. Main
roads linking cities and towns are generally paved, undivided roads
with one lane in each direction. Rural roads are largely gravel,
although well maintained. Four-wheel-drive is not needed for most
driving in Namibia, but the more adventurous may find it helpful for
some rural driving conditions. Certain roads in Windhoek and
elsewhere in Namibia flood briefly during the rainy season, which
can make high ground clearance a useful feature.
Traffic moves on the left (non-American) side of the road, so
cars made for local conditions are right-hand drive (steering wheels
on the right side of the car). A variety of new and used
right-hand-drive vehicles are available locally and from South
Africa, Japan, or Europe. Toyota, Isuzu, Mazda, Nissan, Honda,
Volkswagen, Chrysler, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Ford, and Chevrolet have
dealerships in Namibia. Many vehicles, such as most sport-utility
vehicles, are more expensive than comparable models in the U.S. Some
vehicles, such as Mercedes and BMW; can be less expensive than U.S.
models. Local vehicles are not built to U.S. specifications and are
not suitable for importation to the U.S.
A significant proportion of Embassy employees ship
left-hand-drive (American-style) cars and encounter few problems
driving them in Namibia, thanks in part to Windhoek’s low-volume
traffic and Namibia’s open roads. Left hand drive vehicles may be
imported into Namibia, but may not be sold to Namibians as they
cannot be registered locally. Therefore all left-hand-drive vehicles
will have to be exported or sold to another diplomat.
Namibia currently allows duty-free entry and registration of two
vehicles per Embassy family. There are some indications that
duty-free entry may be restricted to one vehicle in the future.
Repair and maintenance services are roughly equivalent to those
in the U.S. for vehicles purchased locally or from Europe and Japan.
Authorized dealers are generally willing and able to perform
maintenance and repair on corresponding U.S.-purchased models,
although exceptions and problems sometimes occur. For U.S.-purchased
models that do not have local dealer representatives, it may be
necessary to provide garages with repair manuals and/or parts.
Employees must obtain Chief of Mission (or designee) permission
to sell vehicles.
By Namibian law, vehicles must be in Namibia at least 2 years
before they may be sold. For employees whose tours are curtailed,
the Embassy can generally obtain a waiver of this requirement.
Namibia attaches several other requirements — including police
checks and roadworthiness tests — to the resale of vehicles. No
taxes or duty are charged on the resale of a vehicle to persons with
tax-free status. It is generally easier to sell right-hand drive
Third-party-liability insurance (covering the cost of repairs to
the other vehicle if you are responsible for causing an accident) is
required and available locally for about US$120 per year. More
comprehensive coverage is available from local or U.S.-based
Rental cars are readily available, but rather expensive compared
to the U.S.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:30 PM
American personnel generally find it essential to have a personal
vehicle, and many families have two vehicles. Although public
transportation exists and is inexpensive, it generally does not meet
the needs of American personnel. Public transportation consists of
municipal buses, private buses, and taxis. Municipal and private
buses link the city with the Katutura and Khomasdal townships and
run limited routes through Windhoek. Taxis can be hired at the
various taxi stands throughout Windhoek, but their use is not
“Radio” taxis ordered by phone are safer than those hired on the
street. Passengers must be sure to ask the rate when calling for the
taxi and to confirm the price with the driver prior to entering the
Namibia has over 26,710 miles in the national road network, of
which some 3,381 are paved. Roads are generally undivided and
straight, open, and monotonous, with one lane in each direction and
little shoulder. Four-wheel drive is not necessary for most of
Namibia’s roads, but is helpful for exploring the bush, the desert,
and the mountains.
Main roads from Windhoek to the principal towns are paved, as are
the roads linking Windhoek with the South Africa, Angola, and
Botswana borders. Secondary roads are gravel, but generally well
graded and well maintained. Gravel roads can become rough or
corrugated, especially toward the end of the rainy season. The coast
has “salt” roads — a foundation of gypsum, which is soaked with
brine and compacted to form a surface as hard and smooth as tarmac,
but extremely slippery when moistened by the frequent coastal fogs.
Driving outside of Windhoek requires caution and prudence. The
narrowness of roads and the lack of shoulders cause many head-on and
rollover accidents. Gravel roads can be deceptively smooth, causing
drivers to exceed safe speeds and resulting in loss of control of
the vehicle. Curves on gravel roads should be approached and
negotiated at reduced speeds, even in the absence of warning signs.
Rental car rates in Namibia are high, in large part due to the
frequency with which drivers severely damage rental vehicles on
gravel roads. Animals (wildlife and livestock) are a serious danger
on open roads, especially when curves or high grass limit
visibility. Either hitting or swerving to avoid animals can cause
serious accidents, so reduce speed to provide for a reasonable
response time. Driving at night is strongly discouraged, as darkness
compounds the hazards of driving in Namibia — few roads are lit,
other vehicles often lack working lights, and animals become more
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:31 PM
Namibia has 1,400 miles of rail lines; the main lines link
Windhoek to Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, and Gobabis, Otavi to
Grootfontein, Otjiwarango to Outjo, and Keetmanshoop to Luderitz.
Few passenger trains operate, but poor-quality passenger cars are
often attached to freight trains that move between these towns. A
luxury train service runs between Windhoek and Swakopmund; it is a
24-hour trip each way with several tourist excursions en route.
Buses and trucks serve centers that do not have rail links, but are
unsafe and operate unreliably. Inexpensive and safe bus service
operates between Windhoek and the Namibian coast, Cape Town, and
Windhoek has two airports: Eros Airport is a small domestic
airport on the south side of town offering commercial and charter
service to various cities and towns in Namibia.
Hosea Kutako International Airport is about 30 minutes east of
Windhoek, and offers service to Frankfurt and Munich, Germany;
London, England; Luanda, Angola; Gaborone and Maun, Botswana;
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa
and various destinations within Namibia. Several airlines have daily
flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town. From Johannesburg there are
frequent flights to the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America, and other
African countries. Lost baggage and baggage theft are recurring
problems in Johannesburg, so travelers are advised to pack and
safeguard their luggage accordingly. Cape Town offers service to a
smaller number of international destinations. South African Airways
has a code share agreement with Delta Airlines and has daily flights
connecting Johannesburg to New York and Atlanta. Delta code share
flights from Cape Town to Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta are available,
but less frequent. Lufthansa Airways has a code share agreement with
United Airlines to fly daily from Johannesburg to New York and
Washington, D.C. via Frankfurt, Germany. Air Namibia and LTU also
have flights in and out of HKIA.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:33 PM
Telephone service in Windhoek is generally reliable, although
problems with service and billing are not infrequent. The telephone
structure within Windhoek is in flux, with new technology, such as
fiber optic lines and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN),
existing with old copper wiring, which can fail in the rainy season
due to deteriorating insulation. There is a substantial push to
replace the aging lines with the newest technology, which gives hope
for more a more reliable telecommunications infrastructure in the
Embassy personnel receive one phone line in their residence with
one or two instruments (depending on the layout of the house)
Additional lines can be ordered through the local telephone
company (Telecom Namibia) at a cost of about US$4O per line, plus a
monthly charge per line of about US$15. The cost of telephone use
varies according to the duration and time of the call. Namibian
phone service is compatible with U.S.-based callback services, which
can substantially reduce the cost of calls to the U.S. or other
international locations. Typical callback rates are currently around
75 cents per minute. The Chancery, Cultural Center, and USAID
building have access to International Voice Gateway (IVG) lines
providing connectivity to the Department and other Embassies in the
IVG network. These lines are also capable of accessing numbers in
the 202, 301, 703, 800, and 888 area codes, and reasonable personal
use of IVG lines is permitted by post policy. Cellular phones are
provided to all direct hire employees and are widely available in
Namibia, with coverage in all of the most important cities and
tourist locations, although often not on the roads or in the towns
in between. Cellular phones are in wide use and, in many instances
serve as the primary means of communication. Cellular service is
reliable and is complete with options for Callmail, International
Roaming, Call Forwarding, Short Message Service, Call Barring, Call
Wait/Call Hold, FAXMail, and Call Line Identity, just to name a few.
The cost of cellular phone instruments — chiefly Motorola, Nokia,
and Siemens — ranges from under $100 to more than $400 depending on
features. Fees include a one-time connection fee of about US$30 and
monthly subscription fees of US$15. A pay-as-you-go option, called
Tango, does not require a connection fee or subscription service.
Cell to cell calling charges are about 15 cents per minute, and
there is no charge for receiving calls. Local cellular service
covers 52 countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.
The instruments themselves also work in much of Europe, but require
a separate service subscription. Instruments purchased in the U.S.
will generally not work in Namibia.
Windhoek has five Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to choose
from for residential access. Users can dial into the ISPs using a
standard analogue modem with a maximum speed of 56Kbps (average is
around 36Kbps) or via an ISDN Basic Rate Access (BRA) line at
64Kbps. All ISP’s provide Internet access, as well as e-mail
services. For analog ISP service, the monthly service charge is
about US$14, and the cost of a local call to the ISP is about two
cents per minute. For ISDN service, the monthly service charge from
the ISP is about US$52, the monthly charge from the phone company
for the ISDN line is approximately US$25, and the one-time
installation fee is about US$40.
The Internet is available in Community Liaison Office for
reasonable personal use by employees and adult family members.
Windhoek also has several locations, including an Internet cafe,
that offer Internet access for a fee of about US$I.20 per hour.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:14 PM
Windhoek is a category “B” post, which means it does not have
access to an APO/FPO facility or direct access to the U.S. Postal
Service. The Embassy relies on the diplomatic pouch system for all
classes of personal mail.
Category “B” posts may use the pouch to receive flats and
merchandise parcels from the Department. Parcels may not exceed 24
inches in the longest dimension or 62 inches length and girth
combined. Parcels must not weigh more than 40 pounds. The following
items may not be sent through the pouch: alcoholic beverages,
ammunition, animals or animal products (i.e., skins), any item for
resale, bulk supplies, caustics, controlled substances, corrosives,
currency, explosives, firearms, flammable type films, glass
containers, incendiary materials, liquids, magnetic materials,
narcotics, negotiable instruments, personal professional books and
materials, plants, poisons, and radioactive substances.
The pouch address for U.S. Embassy Windhoek is:
(Name) 2540 Windhoek Pl. Dulles, VA 20189–2540
The Embassy has diplomatic pouch service on Tuesdays and Fridays
of each week for both incoming and outgoing material. The classified
courier arrives every two weeks from the pouch hub in Pretoria for
any classified items. The Embassy’s Employee Association administers
a Homeward Bound Program (HBP) to provide authorized pouch users the
ability to send parcels from post back to the U.S. at a reasonable
cost. Senders must attach U.S. postage to the parcels and pay their
pro-rated share of airfreight charges. The same shipping
restrictions apply in the HBP program as when send ing official
The local international mail service is reasonably effective and
affordable, although delays and pilferage are recurring complaints.
The average transit time for a letter from Namibia to the U.S. via
local mail is one to two weeks. Due to the risk of pilferage,
employees are encouraged to use the diplomatic pouch rather than
international mail, especially when sending parcels. The Embassy
collects local mail twice weekly.
The following address should be used for international mail:
(Name) U.S. Embassy Windhoek Private Bag 12029 Ausspannplatz
Windhoek offers two express mail services: DHL and Federal
Express, which have proven to be reliable and safe, although costly.
For documents or parcels weighing less than one kilogram, the cost
of sending items from Namibia to the U.S. is about US$26. The cost
for a one-kilogram package is about US$46, and the cost of larger
packages goes up from there depending on weight.
The address to use when sending DHL or FedEx from the U.S. is:
(Name) American Embassy 14 Lossen St. Ausspannplatz Windhoek,
Radio and TV Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:35 PM
The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (“NBC,” although
unaffiliated with the U.S. network with the same initials)
broadcasts radio programs in all of Namibia’s major languages, with
a combination of news and music during the day and evenings, and
mostly music at night. South African Radio, the BBC and VOA can be
received with a shortwave radio and via satellite TV subscription.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting also runs the TV
station, with uninterrupted broadcasting of English-language. Two
45-minute news programs in indigenous languages feature local news,
sports and weather, and limited coverage of international events
every day. Programming includes some popular British and American
series, a few Australian and Canadian shows, and sports events. NBC
broadcasts on the PAL system. A second commercial station, focusing
on sports and entertainment and with some local content, is expected
to begin broadcasting shortly.
To supplement free commercial broadcasting, a company called MNET
provides several menus of cable TV programming, as well as Digital
Satellite TV (DSTV) with some 40 channels. These channels include
CNN, ESPN, MTV; VHI, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel,
BBC Prime, BBC World, Sky News, Super Sport, Cartoon Network, and
several movie channels. DSTV also offers numerous audio music and
news channel received via television sets. The cost of obtaining
DSTV is about US$410 for equipment purchase and installation, plus
monthly fees of about US$40.
There are several video rental stores in town, as well as a
limited selection of videos for sale. Videos are in PAL format,
requiring a PAL or multi-system, video cassette player, and TV: DVD
disks are also available at many video outlets.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
2/4/2005 2:36 PM
The Namibian (issued five times per week), the New Era (twice
weekly), and the Observer (weekly), are English-language newspapers
with local coverage, as well as some regional and international
coverage. Daily newspapers are also published in German and
Afrikaans. English-language newspapers from South Africa and the
U.K. are available at some larger bookstores, as are dated copies of
the International Herald Tribune. Time, Newsweek, and The Economist
are available on local newsstands, as well as several other popular
American, British, and South African magazines.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:37 PM
The Embassy maintains a small Health Unit staffed by a Namibian
nurse. It receives support from the regional medical officer and
regional psychiatrist based in Pretoria, South Africa. In addition
to providing routine primary care, immunizations, and counseling,
the Embassy Health Unit’s primary function is to help orient
patients to appropriate health care resources in Namibia. Windhoek
has a small number of good private medical hospitals/clinics capable
of providing emergency care and performing many routine procedures.
In general, medical facilities in Windhoek are comparable in quality
and breadth to those of a mid-size American city.
Doctors, both general practitioners and specialists, as well as
dentists, generally have training and facilities that match U.S.
standards. Medical care in Namibia often costs less than it does in
the U.S., and doctors seldom impose the long waits in waiting rooms
that are the norm with their American counterparts. Windhoek’s small
number of specialists cover a wide range of specialties, including
dermatology, ENT, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine,
ophthalmology, orthopedics, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry,
pediatrics, plastic surgery, radiology, and dentistry.
Upon new employees’ arrival in Windhoek, the Health Unit
facilitates appointments with general practitioners (GP).
Establishing a relationship with a GP helps ensure the ongoing care
and wellness of employees and families and appropriate referral to
specialists, and also facilitates admission to emergency rooms when
needed. Patients requiring more sophisticated care than that
available in Windhoek are generally evacuated to South Africa. If
warranted by the patient’s condition, Windhoek-based “medevac”
companies are available to evacuate patients by air, accompanied by
appropriate doctors and equipment, on short notice.
Pharmacies in Windhoek are well-stocked and professionally run.
Some pharmacies are open 24 hours a day. Depending on the particular
medication, costs may be more or less than in the U.S. employees or
family members dependent upon, or preferring, certain medications
should contact the Health Unit prior to arrival to determine
Community Health Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:38 PM
Windhoek poses few health hazards to Americans. Sanitation is
excellent, and tap water is potable in Windhoek and throughout most
of Namibia. Windhoek is connected to a central sewage system. A
high-tech wastewater treatment facility purifies water for
residential use. The Embassy tests water at residences and offices
periodically to ensure that it is not contaminated. Garbage is
collected by municipal trash trucks once a week and disposed of in
landfills. Milk, dairy products, meat, and produce are safe when
purchased from reputable retailers. Industrial and automobile
pollution is not a problem in Windhoek. The main residential pests
are ants. Some areas of Windhoek have large numbers of mosquitoes
during the rainy season, but as Windhoek is in a non-malarial zone,
they are a nuisance more than a health hazard.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:39 PM
The chief ailments afflicting Americans in Windhoek are allergies
and respiratory problems. Pollen and dust, some largely unique to
Namibia, can cause problems even for those who have not experienced
allergies or respiratory problems elsewhere.
Namibia’s high altitude can cause fatigue, especially for
newcomers. Namibia’s extreme dryness can cause uncomfortably dry
skin and chapped lips. Frequent applications of skin lotions and lip
balm help. Windhoek’s windy climate kicks up dust storms that can
complicate medical conditions and make contact lenses uncomfortable.
Lens-wearers often find they use more lubricating fluids in Namibia,
and some find short-term disposable lenses to be most comfortable.
Namibia has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV infection and
AIDS. Safe sex practices should be scrupulously followed. The
Embassy distributes condoms in all office restrooms, sponsors
quarterly AIDS awareness programming, and offers peer counseling and
testing referral services.
Most segments of the rural and disadvantaged urban population
suffer from a lack of adequate sanitation and public health
Incidences of tuberculosis, enteric diseases, and hepatitis are
high among this group. Although HIV/AIDS testing of prospective
employees is prohibited by Namibian law, it is prudent to screen
prospective domestic employees for other health problems.
Namibia’s strong sun, high altitude, and clear skies have given
it one of the world’s highest incidences of skin cancer. If spending
any time outdoors, it is essential to use common-sense precautions,
such as sun block (SPF 15 or higher), hats, and skin-covering
clothing. In reflection of the seriousness of this risk, the
Windhoek International School does not allow children to play
outside unless they are wearing broad-brimmed hats.
Namibia has a variety of venomous snakes, scorpions, and spiders,
but bites or stings from these are rare. Namibia also has rabies,
but the risk of contracting rabies is low if one avoids undue
contact with wild animals. Occasionally, tourists are injured or
killed in game reserves by wild animals. It is essential that
visitors to game reserves remain in their vehicles at all times, and
avoid coming too close to or aggravating the wildlife unpeeled
Although malaria is not found in Windhoek, it does exist in many
northern and northeastern areas of Namibia, including the Etosha
National Park. Visitors to those areas should begin taking
anti-malarial medication (available from the Health Unit) at least
one week prior to travel and should take sensible precautions
against mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent,
skin-covering clothing, and mosquito netting.
Products required for the preventive measures discussed above are
all available in Windhoek.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:39
Embassy Windhoek encourages spousal employment and has a number
of positions that may be filled by eligible family members,
including consular associate, community liaison office coordinator,
DCM assistant, self-help coordinator, security assistance office
assistant, newsletter editor, security escort, and RSO assistant.
USAID and CDC occasionally have employment opportunities for
qualified spouses. The Windhoek International School has occasional
vacancies, and is receptive to qualified applicants from the Embassy
community. The Embassy also has an active summer hire program for
high school and college student family members.
Eligible family members considering Embassy employment should,
for some positions, have or be able to obtain at least a Secret
security clearance and family members seeking employment in the
Consular Associate and Security Escort positions must have or be
able to obtain a Top Secret clearance. The Embassy will assist
family members in completing and submitting the required security
clearance paperwork. Applicants for the Consular Associate position
must also have successfully completed the 26-day Basic Consular
Course at the Foreign Service Institute. The Embassy will assist
inbound eligible family members in obtaining a seat in the course.
The U.S. and Namibia have a bilateral work agreement; spouses and
family members working on the local economy still require a work
permit, but this is generally easy to obtain. Salaries are
significantly lower than for the same or similar jobs in the U.S.
Namibia currently has a high unemployment rate, and finding work in
some types of jobs can be difficult. Many jobs on the local economy
require fluency in Afrikaans or other local languages. The best
opportunities for jobs on the local economy exist in teaching, at
both the K–12 and college levels, and in the small computer systems
American Embassy - Windhoek
Post City Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:41 PM
Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is built on and among hills
rising above a large plateau, and has an altitude of 5,600 feet.
Windhoek is a small and sometimes sleepy city, but with
well-developed infrastructure, services, and amenities.
Windhoek came into existence because of its springs. In 1849, Jan
Jonker Afrikaner, a leader of the Orlam Namas, settled at the
largest spring in what is now the residential area of Klein
Windhoek. Reportedly, Afrikaner named the city after the Winterhoek
Mountains in the Cape of Good Hope, where he was born. In time,
Winterhoek was corrupted to Windhuk in German and Windhoek in
Afrikaans. It translates from the Afrikaans as “Windy Comer.”
In those days, Windhoek was the site of fierce struggles between
the warring southern Namas led by Jonker Afrikaner and the northern
Hereros. The wars largely destroyed the then prospering Windhoek by
the l870s. When South West Africa was declared a German colony in
1884, Major Curt von Francois stationed his garrison in Windhoek.
The site was chosen both because it was strategically situated as a
buffer between the Namas and the Hereros, and because the 12 strong
springs provided sufficient water for drinking and the cultivation
The present Windhoek was founded on October 18, 1890, when von
Francois laid the foundation stone of the fortress that is now known
as the Alte Feste (Old Fort) and serves as a museum. Today, Windhoek
is a trim, clean, and attractive city, with remnants of German
inspired architecture creating a charming downtown district.
Security Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:42 PM
Windhoek is rated high for crime by the Department of State.
Incidents of violent crime directed against U.S. staff and families
are rare. The most common crimes are non-violent crimes such as
residential break-ins, pick-pocketing, purse snatching, vehicle
theft, and vehicle break-in. Common-sense measures, such as using
residential locks and alarms, not leaving valuables in parked cars,
safeguarding purses, keeping wallets in front pockets, and being
alert to one’s surroundings, are the best deterrents against crime.
In response to the crime rating, housing is provided with perimeter
fencing or walls, alarms linked to a private security firm, 12-hour
night-time guards, and a roving guard patrol.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:44 PM
The U.S. Embassy in Namibia consists of State Department, Defense
Attaché Office (DAO), Agency for International Development (USAID),
CDC, and Peace Corps Offices. It is a Special Embassy Program post,
with 27 direct-hire American positions overall. Office hours are
07:15–17:00 on Monday–Thursday and 07:15–12:15 on Fridays. The
Embassy has been in existence since Namibia’s independence in 1990.
A U.S. Liaison Office was established in 1989. The first Peace Corps
volunteers arrived in 1990, and USAID established a Windhoek office
in 1991. The American Cultural Center also was established in 1991.
The Defense Attaché Office opened in 1999, replacing a prior DAO
office that closed several years earlier. CDC established their
presence in 2002.
The State Department has 15 direct-hire Americans: Ambassador,
Deputy Chief of Mission, Office Management Specialist, Public
Affairs Officer, Political Officer, Economic/Commercial Officer,
Consular/Global Affairs Officer, Security Officer, IMS Rover,
Administrative Officer, Regional Financial Management/Human
Resources Officer, General Services Officer, Regional Facilities
Maintenance Manager, Information Programs Officer, and Information
The State Department office also includes six local hire American
positions: DCM Assistant, Self-help Coordinator, Consular Associate,
Security Escort, RSO Assistant, and Community Liaison Office
Coordinator. In addition, the State Department has 32 foreign
The chancery is a two-story building located on the edge of the
downtown area at 14 Lossen Street, Ausspannplatz, phone number
(264)(61) 221–601, fax (264)(61) 229–792. The building underwent
major renovations in November 2002. The American Cultural Center
occupies part of a floor of the Sanlam Building, a high-rise
building on Independence Avenue in the heart of downtown. In
addition to public affairs staff offices, it contains an information
resource center and auditorium. Its phone number is (264)(61)
229–801, fax (264)(61) 232–476.
The Defense Attaché Office (DAO) is staffed by U.S. Air Force
military personnel and includes a Defense Attaché and Operations
Coordinator. The DAO has one foreign national employee. Affiliated
with the DAO is a local-hire American civilian Security Assistance
Program Administrator. DAO is located in the chancery at 14 Lossen
Street, phone (264)(61) 221–601, fax (264)(61) 236–072.
The Peace Corps, supporting about 100 Peace Corps volunteers,
includes three direct-hire Americans: Director, Program Officer, and
Administrative Officer. In addition the Peace Corps has 24 locally
employed staff. The focus of the Peace Corps activities in Namibia
is on education, though HIV/AIDS activities are increasing.
The Peace Corps offices are located on Nachtigal Street in a
small building in a residential area near the chancery. Its phone
number is (264)(61) 226–525, fax (264)(61) 224–211.
The Embassy work schedule is 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday
through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. Direct-hire
Americans of State, DAO, USAID, and CDC except for the Ambassador,
Ambassador’s OMS, agency heads, Deputy Chief of Mission and IPC
staff, take turns as after-hours duty officers on a rotating weekly
basis. Peace Corps has a separate duty roster on a rotating monthly
Centers for Disease Control
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office (CDC) is
located in Windhoek within the Ministry of Health and Social
Services. The staff includes two U.S. direct hire employees:
Director, (medical epidemiologist) and a Deputy Director-Operations
(public health advisor). The CDC staff also includes six locally
employed staff (an office manager, a systems manager, a receptionist
and three chauffeurs). CDC’s primary concentration is the “Global
Aids Program in Namibia” (GAP-Namibia). The focus of the program is
HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Treatment, Infrastructure and Capacity
• Program launched in September 2002 when CDC staff arrived •
Total funding support in FY 2004: $8,325,000 • Based in the National
AIDS Coordination Program, Ministry of Health and Social Services:
Assistance in voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and
Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT), Assistance in
establishing new services to provide ARV Therapy in the public
sector, and Assistance with HIV surveillance, and building capacity
at local training and laboratory institutions in support of HIV
prevention and care.
The Global AIDS Program (GAP) helps prevent HIV infection,
improve care and support and build capacity to address the global
HIV/AIDS pandemic. GAP provides financial and technical assistance
through partnerships with communities, governments, and national and
international entities working in resource-constrained countries.
On January 28, 2003 during the State of the Union Address,
President Bush announced The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief (The Emergency Plan), a five year, $15 billion initiative to
combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. These resources focus primarily
on 15 of the most afflicted countries in the world. Specifically,
The Emergency Plan is intended to treat 2 million HIV-infected
people, prevent 7 million new infections and care for 10 million
HIV-infected individuals and AIDS orphans.
Under coordination of the State Department Global AIDS
Coordinator’s Office, HHS/CDC, GAP partners with other U.S.
Government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health,
the Health Resources Services Administration, the U.S. Agency for
International Development, the Department of Defense and the Peace
Corps to achieve the Emergency Plan goals in the 15 focus countries.
Namibia is one of the countries participating in the Emergency Plan.
Newly Assigned Employees
Newly assigned employees will receive welcome materials, in
advance of their arrival, from the community liaison office
coordinator. The CLO office will also assign social and work
sponsors for new arrivals. Employees and families will be met at the
airport upon their arrival, provided that they have informed the
Embassy of their arrival plans in advance. Employees arriving
unexpectedly should change $50 at the airport; if arriving during
Embassy office hours, they should take an airport taxi to their
agency’s office. If arriving after hours, employees arriving
unexpectedly should call the Embassy Duty Officer from the airport
for guidance. From within Namibia, the duty officer number is 081
127 4384. The Peace Corps duty number is 081 127 1675.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:45 PM
The Embassy does not own or operate temporary staff quarters. The
Embassy does everything possible to have permanent housing ready for
new arrivals, but extended renovations or staffing overlaps
sometimes, making the use of temporary lodging necessary. Temporary
accommodations for short stays are available at several good-quality
hotels, including the Windhoek Country Club and the Kalahari Sands
Hotel. The Windhoek Country Club is about 10 minutes outside the
city, with hourly shuttle service to downtown. The Kalahari Sands is
in the center of Windhoek, within walking distance to most shops,
restaurants, and U.S. Government facilities. Both hotels have
restaurants, swimming pools and shops. The Windhoek Country Club
also has adjoining tennis and golf facilities. Costs of meals in the
hotels are about US$8 for breakfast, US$1O for lunch, and US$15 for
dinner. For longer temporary stays, staff may be housed in pensions,
where rooms include kitchenettes and breakfast that is included in
the room rate.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:14 PM
Furnished government housing is provided for all direct hire
Embassy, USAID, DAO, Peace Corps and CDC employees. The majority of
housing is government owned, except for some houses, as well as
office space for PD, USAlD, Peace Corps and CDC. State Department
and DAO personnel are housed from the Embassy housing pool.
Peace Corps and USAlD maintain separate housing pools for their
Within the Embassy’s housing pool, only the Ambassador’s
residence, DCR and Defense Attaché’s residence are designated. All
other housing assignments are based on employee rank and size of
family at post.
The Ambassador’s residence is a pleasant, but not ostentatious,
house situated on a comer lot in a residential neighborhood, with
views of surrounding hills. The main entertaining and living spaces
are located on one level. The representational areas consist of a
mid-sized double living room, a large dining room, an entrance hall
and a powder room. The kitchen is equipped with large appliances
including two oven/range units, two refrigerators, two freezers, one
dishwasher, one microwave oven, two water filters, two sink areas,
and a normal complement of utensils and small appliances. The family
living area includes a living room, dining room, family room and den
and has four bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms; the main
bedroom is located on the upper level and has a large dressing area.
A large triple garage and a separate one room guest apartment are
located on the lower level. The grounds consist of a large driveway,
a level grass yard, landscaping with indigenous plants and roses,
and a small swimming pool.
The Embassy housing pool consists of single-family homes, most
with three bedrooms, some with four. All are located in residential
neighborhoods no more than 10 minutes by car from U.S. Embassy
offices. Because of Windhoek’s hilly terrain, many houses have
stairs, steep driveways, and/or sloping yards. Houses generally have
small yards adapted to a desert environment, small swimming pools,
covered patios, garages or covered parking areas, and perimeter
walls with remote-controlled vehicle gates. State/DAO/CDC housing
assignments are made by an Interagency Housing Board. USAID, and
Peace Corps housing compares in size and quality to State/DAO/CDC
housing. Except for the USAID representative’s house, housing is
assigned by each agency based on family size.
Furnishings Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:14 PM
Each home is fully furnished with U.S. Government-owned
furniture. Furnishings include standard items for living room,
dining room, den (where available), patio, and kitchen (a breakfast
bar or table/chairs), plus a computer desk. Bedroom furniture
includes a queen-size bed in the main bedroom and twin beds in other
bedrooms. Lamps, carpets, and draperies are provided. A Welcome Kit
is provided, until airfreight arrives.
The Ambassador’s residence is supplied with a full complement of
representational china, flatware, glasses, and hollowware. The
family living area is equipped with a multi-system VCR and TV,
stereo, computer, and printer. Bedrooms are furnished with
bedspreads, and guest rooms are equipped with towels and sheets.
Most houses have a swimming pool, presented to the new tenant
with properly functioning filter equipment and a proper chemical
balance. For the first month of occupancy, the Embassy will pay for
pool service. Thereafter, it is the tenant’s responsibility to keep
the pool in acceptable condition. Pool maintenance equipment,
including skimmers and automatic pool cleaners, are provided, but
chlorine and other chemicals are the occupant’s responsibility. Pool
safety equipment, including a shepherd’s hook and life ring, are
also provided. Pools are fenced for safety, and are equipped with
covers that reduce evaporation and help keep water warm.
Professional pool services are available for about US$15 per visit.
The Ambassador’s, USAID director’s, and Defense Attaché’s
residences receive year-round garden services. Garden services are
provided at other residences for the first two months after an
employees arrival, after which the employee is responsible for
Most gardens have been adapted for Windhoek’s relatively arid
climate, with local indigenous plants and little or no lawns. The
Embassy provides some basic gardening tools, such as shovels, rakes,
wheelbarrows, and (when appropriate) lawnmowers.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:47 PM
All Embassy houses have at least two bathrooms with hot and cold
water and standard fixtures. Each house has bath tubs and/or stall
showers, with at least one bathtub per residence.
Houses are equipped with split air conditioner/heating units in
living rooms, dining rooms, and occupied bedrooms. Many houses have
fireplaces. Wood is a personal expense, but inexpensive wood is
available for purchase in small quantities on the local market. Many
houses have ceiling fans.
Electricity is 220 volts, 50 hertz (cycle). Electric service is
generally reliable, with brief outages occurring periodically,
especially toward the end of the dry season. Current is stable
enough to run electric clocks and appliances with timers. Houses are
equipped with several step-down transformers, which are also
available for purchase locally. Except for the Ambassador’s
residence, houses do not have, and generally do not need, back-up
generators. Houses have adequate interior and security lighting.
Kitchens are equipped with electric stove, refrigerator, freezer,
microwave oven, and dishwasher. Most houses also have outdoor
“braai” (large barbecue grill) areas. A wide range of small
appliances, such as toasters, food processors, blenders, and
electric water kettles, is available on the local market. Houses are
also equipped with a vacuum cleaner, step ladder, electric
humidifier, and electric space heater.
Public utilities in Windhoek function well, and telephone, water,
and electricity outages are rare. One or two telephone units are
provided for each house. Installation fees are paid by the Embassy,
and the occupant pays for monthly service fees and actual phone
Houses are equipped with security alarms linked to a local
quick-response contractor, who will respond when the alarm is
triggered. Alarms are being upgraded to accommodate requirements
imposed by family pets or the employment of domestic staff.
Household insurance is available locally or from U.S.-based
carriers. Local insurers are usually stricter about terms and
conditions, and may deny claims if circumstances deviate, even in
small ways, from the terms of coverage.
Food Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:48 PM
Food supplies in Windhoek are plentiful and easy to obtain. Due
to the weakness of the US Dollar vis-a-vis the Namibian Dollar (tied
to the South African Rand), post gets a COLA ranging between 5 and
The Embassy does not have a commissary, but employees encounter
little or no problems shopping on the local economy. Post employees
also commonly order non-perishable, non-liquid food items over the
Internet when items are not available locally, or when
U.S.-manufactured items are preferred.
In general, the quality of food available in Namibia is high, and
extra safety precautions are not required during food preparation.
Windhoek has good, quality supermarkets that carry mostly South
African and Namibian products, with some European items as well.
Supermarkets stock most products sold in standard U.S. supermarkets,
including occasionally some Mexican foods (e.g., taco shells and
sauces, salsa); however, shoppers find very few U.S. brand names on
A wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, mostly imported
from South Africa, is available in good supply, but availability is
seasonal. In addition to supermarkets, a number of stores specialize
in fruits and vegetables. Produce typically available includes
apples, melons, grapes (including seedless), plums, peaches,
nectarines, oranges, tangerines, bananas, tomatoes, celery,
potatoes, yams, a variety of lettuces, spinach, com (on the cob),
beets, and green beans. A shop specializing in fresh fruit juice
offers a wide selection, including mango, orange, apple, and mixed
Local meat, including lamb, beef, fish, poultry, and pork, is of
high quality and leaner than meat in the U.S. A variety of game
meat, including ostrich, oryx, and kudu, is available from
supermarkets and butchers and is generally very mild, tender, and
lean. Frozen turkeys are imported and available around the holidays.
Chicken is available (whole or in parts, including boneless
breasts), but because some farmers use a combination of grain and
fish meal, the meat may sometimes have a fishy taste. Sausages are
also widely sold and delicious, but may be unfamiliar in taste and
texture to most Americans. Hamburger can sometimes be too lean to
fry. Most supermarkets have deli counters similar to their U.S.
counterparts, as well as pre-packaged high-quality deli meats. Deli
counters also sell marinated, uncooked meats and kabobs for
grilling. Bacon and hotdog-type sausages are available at most
Dairy products pose no health hazards and are generally stored
chilled and pasteurized when appropriate. Fresh whole and low-fat
milk is generally available, and one store has recently begun to
stock skim milk, as well. Long-life milk (whole, low-fat, and skim)
is readily available. A range of cheeses (including cottage and
cream cheese), yogurt, and butter is consistently available.
Brown-shelled eggs from grain-fed chickens are available in small,
medium, and large sizes and are excellent.
Good-quality bakeries and supermarkets throughout Windhoek make
white and grain loaf breads; slicing machines yield sliced
rectangular loaves familiar to the American sandwich consumer.
Heavier loaves, including rye, pumpernickel, and seed breads, are
always available, as are German-style “broetchen” bread rolls — a
breakfast favorite. European-style cakes and pastries are also
available. A wide variety of breakfast cereals is available, some
sold under well-known U.S. brand names. In some cases, however, the
actual products differ in flavor or texture from their U.S.
Supermarkets are stocked with limited but adequate selections of
frozen foods, including meat, vegetables, fruits, ice cream, and
ready-to-eat dishes, but consumers in Namibia will find far fewer
microwave-ready products than in the U.S. Some supermarkets have
recently expanded their ranges of ready-to-eat convenience foods
sold from deli counters, and options ranging from full-course
dinners to sushi are available.
A wide range of baby foods and other baby products is available,
including formulas (milk or soy), baby cereals, jarred foods,
disposable diapers, and wipes. Some U.S. consumers may prefer
familiar brands to local brands. Food prices are the same or higher
than in the U.S.; however, some imported items (e.g., cheeses) can
be significantly higher.
South African wines of excellent quality and reasonable prices
are available locally. Namibia also produces a variety of
good-quality and inexpensive beers. Namibian breweries adhere to
German purity laws; local beer has no chemical additives.
Clothing Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:49 PM
Western clothing and footwear including clothing suitable for
office, recreation, safari, workout, and casual, weekend wear, are
available in Windhoek, but selection can be limited. Reasonably
priced clothing is not of high quality, and high-quality clothing
may cost more than in the U.S. or South Africa. Name brand athletic
shoes are available at sporting goods stores, but dress and casual
shoes are limited in selection and quality. Unusual shoe sizes are
generally not available.
Casual children’s clothing and shoes are readily available,
reasonably well-designed, and moderately priced, although generally
not as high in quality as comparable items from the U.S.
For those who sew, equipment, patterns, fabrics and notions are
readily available in Windhoek. All-cotton fabric, however, is
difficult to find and very limited in selection.
Office attire is comparable to that worn in the U.S. Men wear a
suit or blazer and tie; women wear suits, dresses, or skirts/pants
Cotton dresses or suits made from non-synthetic materials or
cotton-synthetic blends are best during warmer months
(October–February). During hot summer days, most men and women shed
their coats and blazers, unless engaging in a meeting where the more
formal suit coat is a necessity. In winter, (March–September),
sweaters and heavier-weight suit coats and blazers are good for cold
mornings and evenings, although less essential during the warm
afternoons. Very few social functions require formal attire, and a
dark suit or cocktail dress is generally a suitable substitute for
most formal occasions. Representational and non-representational
social functions generally take one of three forms: sit-down dinner,
cocktail or catered buffet, or braai (outdoor barbecue);
corresponding dress ranges from business attire to “smart casual”
(coat, no tie for men; slacks, blouse for women) to “weekend casual”
(polo shirt, khakis).
Office Attire Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:50 PM
Office attire is comparable to that worn in the U.S. Men wear a
suit or blazer and tie; women wear suits, dresses, or skirts/pants
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:50 PM
Pharmacies, supermarkets, department stores, and specialty stores
are well-stocked, with many U.S. brands (although South
African-made) of personal products or easily recognizable
equivalents available. A broad range of women’s cosmetics (Revlon,
Max Factor, Clinique, Lancome, etc.) and hygiene products are
available at reasonable prices. Men’s toiletries are also readily
available. All common drugstore items are found in Windhoek,
including some American products. Non-prescription and prescription
drugs are available, but brands may differ from those sold in the
U.S. Depending on the item, cost of medicine can be substantially
less than, or more than, U.S. equivalents. Some over-the-counter
medications in Namibia would require a prescription in the U.S., so
caution should be used when purchasing any over-the-counter
medication. The Embassy Health Unit has a limited supply of some
medications, so it is prudent to check with the Embassy nurse before
Maintenance, household repair, and housekeeping supplies are
readily available and reasonably priced. A wide selection of
hardware, plus manual and power tools, is available. Cleaning
supplies comparable to U.S. products are available at reasonable
Entertainment items, such as china, glassware, candles, and
serving pieces, are available although selection is limited and
prices for imported items are higher than for comparable items
purchased in the U.S.
Basic paper products, such as toilet paper, tissues, paper
towels, and paper plates, are available, as are food wraps and trash
bags. Quality is generally lower than U.S. equivalents, and paper
products suitable for entertaining (i.e., sturdy or decorative paper
plates) are generally not available or very limited in selection.
A wide variety of cigarette brands, including American brands
manufactured in South Africa (but which differ in taste from their
American counterparts), are sold in Namibia.
Basic Services Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:51 PM
Windhoek has a wide selection of good, quality haircutting
establishments (men’s, women’s, unisex), as well as a small number
of day spas offering facials, manicures, pedicures, massages, etc.
Costs are comparable to U.S. prices.
Numerous professional dry-cleaning and laundry facilities exist;
dry-cleaning prices are generally comparable to those in the U.S.,
but laundry prices are higher. “Express” same-day service is
available at added cost. Basic tailoring services are available and
affordable, although high skill dressmaking or tailoring is not
readily available. It is unusual to have clothing made in Namibia.
Shoe repair services are comparable in quality and price to U.S.
Repairs for electrical appliances are of reasonable quality and
price, although service can be quite slow and all parts are not
readily on hand.
Veterinary services in Namibia are comparable to those in the
U.S., and offer the full range of vaccinations and “veterinarian”
pet foods (i.e., Lams, Science Diet). Pet foods and other pet items
are also available in grocery stores and pet stores. The SPCA and
private kennels offer boarding services. The SPCA is also a good
source for inexpensive pets, although private breeders exist as
Domestic Help Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:52 PM
The Ambassador is authorized four Official Residence Expense
domestic employees. Most other staff hire part-time or full-time
maids or maid/nannies and part-time garden cleaners. Competent maids
and garden cleaners are available in Windhoek, but it requires a
little effort to find the right one. Most are able to speak and
understand a little English, although fluency and literacy are
harder to find. Maids are generally competent at housekeeping,
laundry, and ironing. Garden cleaners are able to sweep leaves,
water plants, and cut grass, but are rarely skilled gardeners.
Commercial gardening services are available for about US$15 per day.
Cooks are rare; some employees use private, good-quality caterers
for representational entertaining. Good, experienced nannies are
available, although more difficult to find than maids. It is
extremely unusual to hire a driver in Windhoek, although qualified
drivers can be found for this purpose, if needed.
Salaries for domestics who do basic housecleaning and laundry
vary from US$80 to US$150 per month, full-time on average, varying
with experience and additional responsibilities; gardeners receive
about US$8 to US$1O a day and are usually only needed 1 or 2 days a
week. In addition, some employers provide food or a food allowance,
and/or a transportation allowance.
Most domestic help is not live-in, although live-in help can be
found, if needed. Most U.S. Government housing has separate quarters
for domestic help. Employees are expected to abide by Namibian legal
requirements regarding the employment of domestic help. Full-time
domestic employees must be enrolled in local social security at the
employer’s expense and granted at least 24 days of paid leave per
year. A year-end bonus is traditionally given to employees,
sometimes equal to one-month’s pay, but this is not required.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:52 PM
Services are available for most faiths commonly practiced in the
U.S., although facilities and English-language services are limited
in some cases. Christian denominations include Baptist, Lutheran,
Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Dutch Reformed, Roman Catholic,
and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Windhoek has a
small Jewish community a Bahai community, a mosque and Islamic
At Post Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:53 PM All school tuition fees in
Windhoek are covered by the education allowance established by the
Department of State. Except where noted below, all instruction is in
The Windhoek International School (WIS) is a State
Department-supported school covering grades pre-kindergarten through
grade 12. It is fully accredited by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International
Schools. WIS has an enrollment of approximately 350 students, with a
diverse mix of Namibian and expatriate students and faculty. WIS
offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in both primary
and secondary schools. Enrollment in the IB program facilitates the
academic integration of students as they move from WIS to other
international schools and an IB diploma can count towards college
credit. In addition, WIS offers the Southern African IGSCE and
HIGSCE examinations. Although the latter will be phased out as of
November 2005. WIS’s school year runs on an approximately American
schedule — from each August to late June, with breaks in October,
December, and March. WIS’s curriculum is designed to address the
needs of local and other international students, as well as American
students. The Embassy runs a school bus between children’s homes and
WIS. WIS does not require school uniforms.
St George’s Diocesan School (Anglican) covers grades
pre-kindergarten through grade 7. It has an enrollment of
approximately 450 students, predominantly Namibian, but with a mix
of expatriate students as well. The St. George’s school year runs
from January to December, and the school requires uniforms. Neither
the school nor the Embassy operates a school bus for St. George’s,
but parents are eligible for mileage reimbursement.
St. Paul’s College (Catholic) offers classes from grades 5 to 13,
with an enrollment of approximately 375. Students from St. George’s
typically feed into St. Paul’s for their secondary education. St.
Paul’s offers the IGCSE and HIGCSE examinations, which are geared
for students intending to attend southern African universities. The
St. Paul’s school year runs from January to December. Neither the
school nor the Embassy operates a school bus for St. Paul’s, but
parents are eligible for mileage reimbursement. St. Paul’s requires
Deutsche Hohere Privatschule (DHPS), is the most prominent of
several private German schools, covering grades kindergarten through
13 with an enrollment of 1,000 students. Instruction from grade five
to 12 is in English, and instruction in the lower grades is a mix of
German and English. The 13th grade, which is taught in German, is
intended to prepare students to attend university in Germany or
Austria. The DHPS school year runs from January to December, with
classes from Monday to Friday, plus every other Saturday. Neither
DHPS nor the Embassy operates a school bus for DHPS, but parents are
eligible for mileage reimbursement. The DHPS requires uniforms.
Windhoek offers a variety of pre-school options. The Windhoek
International School has the most comprehensive at about US$2600 per
year. Windhoek’s Montessori pre-school costs approximately US$1000
per year. Other pre-schools are run mostly from private homes. These
typically cost US$500 per year, and also are available short-term or
for as little as 1 day per week. Pre-school hours typically run from
7:30 am to 1:00 pm.
Away From Post Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:54 PM Employees assigned
to Windhoek are eligible for away-from-post education allowance for
children in grades 9 to 12. Employees occasionally send secondary
school-age children to boarding schools, typically in Switzerland,
England, or South Africa.
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:54 PM
The Windhoek International School is the only school of
international standard in Windhoek with some resources for children
with special learning needs. Its resources are limited, however, and
parents of children with special requirements should contact WIS
before accepting an assignment to Windhoek to determine whether the
school can accommodate their children’s needs. Private physical and
occupational therapy programs are available and have been approved
by the Department of State, on a case-by-case basis, for coverage by
the special education allowance.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:56 PM
Windhoek has excellent facilities for a wide range of sports. A
number of stores sell most of the sports equipment and clothing
Most mission houses have a swimming pool, although most are too
small for lap swimming. The city of Windhoek has an excellent
8-lane, 50-meter outdoor pool, with separate diving pool. Admission
fees and seasonal passes are very inexpensive. One private health
club has an indoor 25-meter lap pool. Swimming instruction for
adults and children is readily available and affordable.
Several tennis clubs are available with outdoor hard surface
courts. Some courts are lighted for night play. Memberships are very
inexpensive. Instruction is available and affordable.
Windhoek has an excellent grass 18-hole golf course set in a
scenic desert landscape. Single membership costs about US$400, plus
an annual fee of about US$350. Greens fees are about US$7 for
members and US$16 for non-members. Instruction, caddies, and
equipment rental are available and inexpensive by U.S. standards.
The coastal resort of Swakopmund, about 3 to 4 hours from Windhoek,
also has a nice 18-hole course.
Windhoek has a number of health clubs. The largest of these is
equivalent to a high-end U.S. facility and costs about US$240 per
person, per year. It has free weights, circuit training, aerobics,
bikes, treadmills, stair machines, rowing machines, squash courts,
and a 25-meter indoor pool. Personal training and diet planning are
available and relatively inexpensive.
Windhoek has clubs and/or facilities for basketball, soccer,
baseball/softball, volleyball, and cricket. A local branch of the
Hash House Harriers meets weekly.
Bicycling is very popular, with several road races organized
throughout the year. Motor sports are also very popular among the
Namibian population, with facilities in or near Windhoek ranging
from go-karts to motocross to a race track for occasional car races.
Horseback riding is available from private stables, with
well-kept horses, equipment, and facilities. Registration fees are
nominal and lessons cost less than $10 an hour, but there is often a
waiting list. Guided trail tours and horseback game viewing are
available at several lodges, and multi-day horseback trips to the
coast are offered periodically.
The coastal towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay offer
opportunities for sea sports including surfing, sea kayaking, and
deep-sea fishing, with boat charters, equipment, and instruction
available and affordable. Surf fishing, possible along 450
kilometers of coastline from Sandwich Harbor in the south to Terrace
Bay in the north, is reputed to be among the best in the world. Also
centered on the coast and the adjacent Namib Desert are facilities
for adventure sports, such as quad biking, sand surfing,
para-sailing, skydiving, hang-gliding, and micro-light flying.
Licensed hunting is permitted both on privately owned game farms
and on communal lands. Numerous professional hunters offer their
services to newcomers. Bird watching is another popular pastime in
Namibia, home to a wide variety of southern Africa’s vast and valued
Windhoek offers high-quality, inexpensive instruction in a
variety of sports for children and/or adults, including aerobics,
yoga, martial arts, horseback-riding, ballet, gymnastics, and
Soccer, rugby, and cricket are the most popular spectator sports,
and national and international matches can be viewed at Independence
Stadium or on television.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:57 PM
Namibia is a paradise for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts.
Namibia was the first country to include environmental conservation
in its constitution. To protect the country’s wildlife and scenic
natural beauty, several national parks and conservation areas were
created, covering 14% of the country’s surface area. The Department
of Nature Conservation operates rest camps at 22 locations, offering
a range of camping and lodging options, including reasonably priced
hotels, kitchen-equipped bungalows, developed camp grounds, and
undeveloped wilderness camping. These locations provide comfortable
bases from which to explore Namibia’s wildlife and breathtaking
landscapes. Many privately run hotels, guest and game farms, and
lodges are also available, and offer excellent rooms and service.
The largest game reserve, Etosha National Park, is about a 5-hour
drive from Windhoek. It offers a range of overnight accommodations
at spotlit watering holes, and has some of the world’s best game
viewing: abundant elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, many types of
gazelles and antelopes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, warthogs,
and more. Many other reserves and game lodges offer accommodations
ranging from basic to luxurious, all with excellent game viewing
possibilities. The closest reserves and lodges are within 20 minutes
of Windhoek. The very expensive Skeleton Coast Park in the far
northwest of Namibia offers the chance to see extremely rare
desert-adapted elephants and rhinos.
Namibia offers excellent hiking and camping in a variety of
stunning landscapes. Camping facilities range from basic and remote
to luxury, with potable water, electrical outlets, and
kitchen/toilet facilities. The Fish River Canyon — second in size
only to the Grand Canyon — can be hiked in 4 to 5 days. The Orange
River, along Namibia’s southern border offers rafting and canoeing,
as well as camping.
Soothing hot springs at the Gross Barmen resort and Rehoboth are
less than an hour away from Windhoek. The hot springs of Ai-Ais, in
southern Namibia, provide respite to hikers of the Fish River
Canyon. The Namib-Naukluft Park and the Skeleton Coast give windows
on the beauty of the Namib, the world’s oldest desert. The Namib is
also home to the world’s tallest sand dunes, many easily accessible
from the road for climbing. In contrast to these examples of untamed
nature are the coastal towns of Luderitz and Swakopmund, quiet
resort areas carved from the desert landscape that lines Namibia’s
coast. These towns offer quaint German architecture and comfortable
lodging and restaurants. Swakopmund is also a center for
“recreational” shopping. Luderitz is adjacent to fascinating ghost
towns being reclaimed by the desert, as well as to Namibia’s diamond
region where access is strictly regulated.
A common activity for seeing many of Namibia’s sights is a
camping safari. Several safari companies in Windhoek offer
“drive-in” or “fly-in” guided tours of Namibia’s beauty and
wildlife. At night, tourists sleep under a brilliant night sky
untroubled by pollution or city lights.
Other popular excursions include visits to Namibia’s numerous
prehistoric rock paintings, a trip to a petrified forest, excursions
to see the rare welwitschia, a desert plant that lives for thousands
of years, and trips to various regions and festivals to experience
Namibia’s fascinating indigenous cultures.
Namibia offers a handful of small, but good museums of history
and culture. Museum subjects include history, traditional tribal
cultures, geology and gems, railroads and transportation, and art.
Entertainment Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:58 PM
Windhoek sometimes seems like a sleepy little town, but it does
have nightspots and entertainment features. The National Theatre of
Namibia has a variety of presentations, from musical groups to film
festivals to plays. Namibia boasts an amateur, but good symphony
orchestra made up of members of the community, and an opera group
that sponsors a handful of sold-out performances each year. The
Warehouse Theatre is a popular venue for live jazz and other
performances suitable to the small stage. There are also a small
number of nightspots that feature dancing and live or recorded
music. The College for the Arts features frequent recitals and
offers inexpensive art and music lessons for both children and
adults. A five screen movie theater shows recent U.S. movies (about
3 months after their U.S. release). There are numerous video rental
outlets (PAL system) with good selections of VHS tapes; many rent
DVD videodiscs and electronic game cartridges. Saturday mornings
find most of Windhoek strolling through downtown, shopping, sitting
in outdoor cafes and restaurants, or browsing the handicraft vendors
along the Post Street Mall shopping area. Sidewalks roll up promptly
at 1:00 pm when the stores close and everyone leaves for home or the
country, although Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning store hours
are gradually becoming more common.
Windhoek has a number of restaurants that are good and
inexpensive. Many restaurants are steak houses or otherwise meat
oriented, and there is a limited range of international cuisine
beyond Italian and Chinese. Restaurant meals generally cost about
$10–$20 per person. Some restaurants include standard German cuisine
on their menus, while others offer more exotic game entrees (e.g.,
ostrich, kudu, oryx, springbok). A gourmet restaurant situated in an
early 1900s castle is reputed to be the best, and is certainly the
most expensive, in town. An Italian restaurant/pizza parlor within
walking distance of the Embassy is a popular lunch and dinner venue
among the American community. Kentucky Fried Chicken is the only
American fast food franchise operating in Windhoek, although several
South African fast food chains are present as well.
Among Americans Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:58 PM Windhoek, for all
its amenities, is a quiet town, and social life is what each
individual makes of it. Embassy personnel periodically get together
to play softball or volleyball, to dine out, or to go on excursions.
An Embassy bookclub meets monthly, and the CLO office maintains an
informal lending library of donated books and videos.
International Contacts Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:59 PM Americans
have the possibility of a great deal of social contact with both
Namibians and other nationalities. Mission personnel are graciously
accepted by the local population. There is a large anglophone
international community, with more than 50 countries and
international organizations represented in Windhoek.
Contacts with the local and international community are
facilitated by a Rotary Club and Roundtable, which provide business
networking opportunities. Namibia has a small, but active,
Scientific Society, that sponsors occasional seminars and publishes
papers, reports, and books on subjects related to Namibia — commonly
wildlife, biology, and geology. Parents and children in schools with
international enrollments have opportunities to meet and befriend
people from other countries at various school activities held
throughout the year. The Association of Diplomatic Spouses has a
very active calendar, sponsoring several fundraising events each
year in support of grassroots charities offering aid to women and
children in Namibia. There are also any number of non-governmental
organizations who welcome people willing to volunteer their time and
skills supporting programs that help nature conservation and
wildlife, the poor, battered women and children, orphans, HIV/AIDS
victims, and the victims of landmines.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:59 PM
The Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission, and agency heads
typically maintain active representational schedules, in which other
Embassy employees are expected to participate in varying degrees.
Employees are encouraged to organize and participate widely in
representational events. Dress is generally specified on the
invitation, and typically ranges from smart casual to business
attire. Formal events are rare. Should the need arise, tuxedos can
be rented or purchased in Windhoek. Receptions or dinners at home,
and lunches and dinners at restaurants, are typical representational
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:00 PM
All staff members are expected to assist the Ambassador and
senior officers as needed in entertaining foreign guests and
official visitors. Funding is made available to staff members to
assist in carrying out their own representational responsibilities.
Only senior officers are expected to make formal calls on members of
the Namibian Government and diplomatic corps, but all staff members
are encouraged to call on appropriate Namibian and diplomatic
counterparts. All employees should bring at least 100 business cards
or have them printed locally.
Special Information Last Updated: 2/4/2005 2:55 PM
Post Orientation Program
The Community Liaison Office (CLO) organizes a comprehensive
orientation program for newcomers. As soon as a new employee is
assigned, the CLO sends out orientation materials and a welcome
telegram, and the General Services Office sends out information on
housing and shipping (the TMTWO). The CLO also identifies social and
work sponsors, and facilitates contacts between employee and
sponsors before the employee arrives. Upon arrival, new employees
and their families are assisted by the CLO and sponsors, and given
comprehensive administrative check-in procedures to follow. At the
end of the summer rotation season, the CLO organizes an annual
orientation seminar that covers the Embassy’s mission program goals,
the activities of the various agencies, Namibia’s social, cultural,
and recreational attractions, Namibia’s security and safety
concerns, and Namibia’s history and cultural diversity. A highlight
of the orientation seminar is a panel discussion by foreign national
employees representing Namibia’s various ethnic groups, in which the
employees share the histories, perspectives, and sometimes even the
foods and songs, of their cultures.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:00 PM
Delta Airlines has a code share agreement with South African
Airways on daily flights from New York and from Atlanta to
Johannesburg, South Africa. Three days a week the Atlanta flights
stop in Cape Town, South Africa, en route to Johannesburg. From
Johannesburg or Cape Town, Air Namibia, South African, and British
Airways combine to offer several flights daily to Windhoek.
United Airlines has a code share agreement with Lufthansa
Airlines on flights from New York and Washington to Johannesburg via
Frankfurt. Several onward flights from Johannesburg to Windhoek are
available daily via Air Namibia, South African, or British Airways.
Air Namibia and LTU Airlines have direct flights to Windhoek from
Frankfurt and Munich respectively.
Most flights from South Africa to Windhoek arrive at Hosea Kutako
International Airport, approximately 30 minutes drive outside of
Baggage theft and pilferage is a recurring problem at
Johannesburg International Airport, so travelers should pack
valuables and necessities in their carry-on luggage and safeguard
their checked luggage as much as possible.
Upon notification of arrival information the Embassy will meet
and assist travelers upon their arrival in Windhoek.
Airfreight (UAB) transit time varies, but most air shipments
arrive within be marked as follows:
American Embassy Windhoek, Namibia For Ambassador (Employee’s
initials) c/o Jet-X
Surface shipments (household effects and personally owned
automobiles) are sent via Walvis Bay, Namibia. If required,
shipments can be stored until the employee’s arrival. Surface
shipments may take 3–5 months from the U.S. Surface shipments should
be marked as follows:
American Embassy Windhoek, Namibia For Ambassador (employee’s
initials) c/o Namtrans Ltd. Via Walvis Bay
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:01 PM
Diplomatic personnel are authorized duty-free entry of household
goods and up to two motor vehicles. Administrative and technical
staff are authorized duty-free entry of household goods and motor
vehicles during their first 6 months in Namibia. There are currently
no restrictions attached to the type or age of vehicle imported.
Passage Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:01 PM
Americans traveling on regular blue passports for short-term
purposes of business or tourism do not need visas. Holders of
official and diplomatic passports who are assigned to Namibia should
obtain visas prior to their arrival. Visas can be obtained at the
Namibian Embassy in Washington, D.C., or the Consulate in New York
City. The State Department Visa Office can assist in obtaining
necessary visas. Personnel should send their complete diplomatic or
official passport details to the Embassy at least 2 weeks in advance
of their arrival. The Embassy will assist employees and family
members in obtaining long duration and multiple-entry visas after
they have arrived in Windhoek.
In the past, personnel coming to Namibia via Johannesburg on
official or diplomatic passports required South African visas in
order to exit South African airports’ transit areas. In February
2001 the South African High Commission in Windhoek confirmed that
holders of U.S. passports (diplomatic, official, or regular) no
longer need South African visas in order to enter South Africa.
Pets Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:02 PM
Importation permits are required for all animals entering
Namibia. The country that the pet is shipped from will determine if
the pet will be subject to quarantine. Birds are subject to a 30-day
quarantine. The application process for importation permits requires
sending documents back and forth between the pet owner and the
Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Rural Development’s
State Veterinarian office, so post recommends starting the process
at least 2 months ahead of arrival. The Embassy can provide the
application form, which is filled out by the pet owner and sent to
the State Veterinarian office. The State Veterinarian office issues
a permit form, which must be filled out by the pet’s own
veterinarian. A current rabies shot is required, and must have been
administered not less than 30 days and not more than one year prior
to the pet’s arrival in Namibia. Once completed by your
veterinarian, the permit is returned for final processing and the
permit is then issued and returned to the pet owner. The permit must
accompany the pet during shipment. The Embassy has had good success
in working with the State Veterinarian office to ensure the smooth
arrival of pets, and the State Veterinarian will generally accept
faxed copies of forms. Certain animals, especially certain bird
species, require an additional permit, so please allow 2 additional
weeks if bringing a bird to Namibia. After arrival, dogs and cats
will be immediately released to the custody of the owner on the
understanding that the pet will be brought to the State Veterinarian
in town for final health approval, if not quarantine. The State
Veterinarian requires notification of arrival of incoming animals,
so please notify the GSO of shipping details for pets. GSO will
notify the appropriate offices to assure that entry is as smooth as
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:02 PM
Importation of ammunition and firearms, except handguns, for
sporting purposes is possible with Chief of Mission’s permission and
Government of Namibia licensing.
Employees wishing to ship firearms and ammunition to Namibia
should contact the Embassy in advance for permission and guidance on
importing these items. Licensing of the item must be obtained from
the Namibian Police through the RSO and administrative officer.
Namibia prohibits the importation of handguns; therefore, the
Embassy strictly prohibits the importation of handguns and no
employee should include a handgun in any luggage or shipments. Age
18 is the legal hunting age in Namibia.
After approval is received from the Ambassador, arrangements for
an import permit may be made through the Embassy before the weapon
arrives. Information required by the Embassy in order to obtain the
necessary import permit includes make and model of the firearm,
serial number, caliber of weapon, caliber and type of ammunition,
and number of rounds of ammunition (limited to 80 rounds per
After the weapon(s) arrive at post, the employee is responsible
for obtaining a letter of authorization to possess the firearm. The
letter of authorization is obtained from the Namibian Police Firearm
Registration Unit. Employees must declare all firearms with customs
officials and produce the necessary permit(s) for presentation when
removing the items from Namibia. No firearm or ammunition imported
into Namibia may be sold locally. Firearms without serial numbers
are not allowed into Namibia.
Inquiries concerning this policy may be directed to the Embassy
regional security officer.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
2/4/2005 3:03 PM
Namibia’s currency is the Namibia dollar. It is based on the
decimal system, with 100 cents equaling 1 dollar. The currency is
tied to the South African rand, which has a floating rate of
exchange, and as of December 2003 the exchange rate was N$6.30=US$1.
The Namibia dollar is equal in value to the South African rand. The
rand is legal tender in Namibia, but Namibian dollars are valid only
in Namibia and are not accepted in South Africa.
Travelers to Namibia may wish to obtain a small amount of rand
prior to their departure for Namibia or when transiting South
Africa, as rand is easier to obtain internationally and accepted
throughout Namibia. Upon arrival in Windhoek, U.S. dollars can be
converted at airport currency exchange counters at reasonable
exchange rates. The Embassy cashier offers a slightly better
exchange rate, so do not change more than you expect to need for
Namibia uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:04
Namibia has a 15 Value Added Tax. VAT will be reimbursed on all
purchases except vehicle fuels (no minimum or maximum purchase
limits) Refunds are to be made every month and are sent directly to
the embassy. To facilitate the refund process, Embassy employees
wishing to receive VAT reimbursements are asked to establish a local
Third-party-liability insurance is insurance is available locally
for approximately US$120 per year.
Employees may sell personal property, generally prior to their
departure from Namibia. The Chief of Mission’s approval is required
for all items exceeding minimal value (US$285). Automobiles may be
sold duty free after they have been within the Southern African
Customs Union for 2 years, although waivers generally can be
obtained if an employee’s tour of duty is curtailed. Cars that have
not been in country the required 2 years are subject to duties,
unless they are sold within the diplomatic community.
Check cashing is available Monday through Friday from the Embassy
Class B cashier. Embassy personnel may obtain Namibian dollars by
cashing personal U.S. checks or travelers checks from US$20 (minimum
amount) to US$500 (maximum) per day. Third-party checks are not
accepted. Employees may sign powers of attorney to enable spouses to
cash checks at the Embassy. Those who require larger amounts must
generally obtain the services of a local bank. Personal U.S. checks
can be cashed at First National Bank, Ausspannplatz Branch, upon the
delivery of an authorization letter from the Financial Management
Officer. The Class B Cashier can also provide South African rand
given 24 hours notice.
Some employees use local bank accounts to deposit local salary
checks or pay local bills. Maintaining a bank account in Namibia is
somewhat more cumbersome than in the U.S., and fees are charged for
most transactions. The Embassy can assist employees in establishing
Traveler’s checks are available from the First National Bank. The
bank must receive an application form 24 hours in advance, sent via
the Embassy cashier. For non-diplomats, an airline ticket must be
referenced on the traveler’s checks application form.
Traveler’s checks can be used at hotels and banks, and major
credit cards are accepted at most commercial establishments. Many
ATM machines in Namibia accept U.S. ATM cards that are members of
international syndicates (Cirrus, Plus, Honor, Interlink), issuing
Namibian dollars at a reasonable exchange rate. The daily ATM
maximum withdrawal is currently N$2,000 (approximately US$308) at
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:15 PM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on Namibia. In addition to the titles listed, a variety of
travel guides on Namibia and neighboring countries is available at
most bookstores and online booksellers. The Department of State does
not endorse unofficial publications.
Bauer, Gretchen. Labor and Democracy in Namibia, 1971–1996. Ohio
University Press, 1998.
Britz, Lang, Limprecht. A Concise History of the Rehoboth
Basters. Klaus Hess Publishers: Windhoek! Gottingen, 1999.
Comley, P & Meyer, S. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Namibia.
South Africa, 1997.
Conniff, Richard. “Cheetahs: Ghosts of the Grasslands.” National
Geographic Magazine. December, 1999.
Crandall, David P. The Place of Stunted Ironwood Trees: A Year in
the Lives of the Cattle Herding Himba of Namibia. Continuum
Publishing Group: 2000.
Dierks, Klaus. IIKhauxa!nas, Growing to Nationhood. Windhoek,
Dreyer, Ronald. Namibia and Southern Africa: Regional Dynamics of
Decolonization 1945–90. Kegan Paul intl., 1994.
Gewald, Jan-Bart. Herero Heroes: A Socio-Political History of the
Herero Of Namibia, 1890–1923. Ohio University Press, 1999.
Gibson, Larson, McGurk. The Kavango Peoples. Franz Steiner
Verlag: Wiesbaden, 1981.
Godwin, Peter. “Bushmen: Last Stand for Southern Africa’s First
People.” National Geographic Magazine. February 2001.
Groth, Siegfried. Namibia: The Walls of Silence. Peter Hammer
Verlag: Wuppertal, 1995.
Grotpeter, John J. Historical Dictionary of Namibia. Scarecrow
Grunert, Nicole. Namibia: Fascination of Geology. Klaus Hess
Publishers: Windhoek/Gottingen, 2000.
Hayes, Patricia; Silvester, Jeremy; Wallace, Marion; Hartmann,
Wolfram (ed.). Namibia Under South African Rule: Mobility and
Containment 1915–46. Oxford, 1998.
Hartmann, Wolfram (ed). The Colonising Camera: Photographs in the
Making of Namibian History. Ohio University Press: 1999.
Heywood, Masdoorp. The Hendrik Witbooi Papers. National Archive:
Jaffa et al. An Investigation of the Shooting at the Old Location
on 10 December 1959. Discourse Publications: Windhoek, 1995.
Katjavivi, Peter. Church and Liberation in Namibia. Pluto Press:
1990. Katjavivi, Peter. A History of Resistance in Namibia. Africa
World Press: 1990.
Kinahan, Jill. By Command of Their Lordships. Namibia
Archaeological Trust: Windhoek, 1992.
Kinahan, John. The Archaeology of Social Rank Among
Eighteenth-Century Nomadic Pastoralists in Southern Namibia.
King, Kimberly Lenease and Mabokela, Reiturnetse Obakeng (eds.).
Apartheid No More: Case Studies of Southern African Universities in
the Process of Transformation. Bergin & Garvey, 2001.
Lau, Brigitte. Carl Hugo Hahn Diaries. Archive Services Division:
Lau, Brigitte. Namibia in Jonker Afrikaners Time. National
Archives of Namibia: Windhoek, 1994.
Lewis-Williams, Dowson. Images of Power: Understanding San
RockArt. Stroik Publishers: Cape Town, 2000.
Leys, Colin T. and Saul, John S. Namibias Liberation Struggle:
The Two-Edged Sword. Ohio University Press: 1995.
Maho, J.F. Few People, Many Tongues. Gamsberg Macmillan:
Malan, J.S. Peoples of Namibia. Rhino Publishers: Wyngate Park,
Martin, Henno. The Sheltering Desert. AD.Donker: Jeppestown,
Notkola, Veijo and Sliskonen, Harri. Fertility, Mortality and
Migration in Subsaharan Africa: The Case of Ovamboland in North
Namibia, 1925–90. Palgrave: 2000.
Palgrave, K. Trees of Southern Africa. South Africa, 1977.
Pendleton, Wade C. Katutura: A Place Where We Stay: Life in a
Post-Apartheid Township in Namibia. Ohio University Press: 1996.
Pool, Gerhard. Samuel Maherero. Gamsbert Macmillan, Windhoek,
Silvester, Jeremy. My Heart Tells Me I Have Done Nothing Wrong:
The Fall of Mandume. Discourse Publications: Windhoek, 1995.
Nujoma, Sam. Where Others Wavered. Panaf Books London, 2001.
Tonjes, Hermann. Ovamboland. Namibia Scientific Society:
Etosha: Africa’s Untamed Wilderness. PBS: Living Edens Series
Namib: Africa’s Burning Shore. PBS: Living Edens Series Home
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