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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 capital city.

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, American city.

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 summer months.

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 epidemic.

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 7%.

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 indigenous beliefs.

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 regional level.

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 traditional authorities.

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 population.

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 art.

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 Training Activities.

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 Namibia.


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 vehicles.

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 insurers.

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 recommended.

“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 taxi.

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 active.

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 Johannesburg.

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 future.

Embassy personnel receive one phone line in their residence with one or two instruments (depending on the layout of the house) provided.

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 pouch mail.

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, Namibia

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, Namibia

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 availability.

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 facilities.

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 produce.

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 PM

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 support sector.

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 of food.

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 Management Specialist.

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 national employees.

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 basis.

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 Development.

• 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 personnel.

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 garden maintenance.

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 usage.

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 10 percent.

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 the shelves.

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 varieties.

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 supermarkets.

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. counterparts.

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 and blouses.

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 and blouses.

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 purchasing medication.

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 cost.

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. establishments.

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 well.

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 center.


Dependent Education

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 English.

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 uniforms.

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 needed.

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 bird life.

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 tennis.

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.

Social Activities

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.

Official Functions

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 events.

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 Windhoek.

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 possible.

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 weapon).

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 initial purposes.

Namibia uses the metric system of weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:04 PM


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 bank account.

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 local accounts.

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 most machines.

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, 1992.

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 Press, 1994.

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: Windhoek, 1996.

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. Johannesburg, 1996.

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: Windhoek, 1985.

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: Windhoek, 1998

Malan, J.S. Peoples of Namibia. Rhino Publishers: Wyngate Park, Pretoria, 1995.

Martin, Henno. The Sheltering Desert. AD.Donker: Jeppestown, 1983.

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, 1991.

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: Windhoek, 1996.


Etosha: Africa’s Untamed Wilderness. PBS: Living Edens Series Home Video.

Namib: Africa’s Burning Shore. PBS: Living Edens Series Home Video.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 2/4/2005 3:08 PM

New Year’s Day Jan. 01 Independence Day Mar 21 Good Friday March/April Easter Monday March/April Labor Day May 01 Cassinga Day May 04 Africa Day May 25 Ascension Day May 25 Heroes’ Day Aug 29 Human Rights Day Dec 10 Christmas Day Dec 26 Family Day Dec 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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