With a history of a number of different ethnic groups and occupation by the Germans and South Africans, there was never really one primary language spoken in Namibia. Before the country’s independence in 1990, the official languages were English, German and Afrikaans. Since 1990, the official language has been English, although the most widely understood tongue is Afrikaans. The younger generation tends to have a much better grasp of English, while German is still spoken by about a third of the population. In the north, the majority of the people speak Oshiwambo, while the regions bordering Angola speak Portuguese.
The official currency of Namibia is the Namibian dollar (NAD, N$). It is anchored to the South African rand on a one-on-one basis. Both currencies can be used in Namibia, although the Namibian dollar cannot be used in South Africa. Currency exchange can be done in banks and at exchange bureaus. Banks can also exchange travelers’ checks, which usually offer better rates than cash transfers. MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Diners Club cards are accepted in large establishments. Do note, however, that gas stations only take cash. ATMs are available in major cities and towns, but some urban centers are few and far between so travelers are advised to plan ahead.
Namibia follows West Africa Time, which is one hour ahead of GMT (GMT +1). Although most of the countries in southern Africa do not observe daylight saving, Namibia does. In the summer months, Namibia moves to West Africa Summer Time, which is two hours ahead of GMT (GMT +2).
The electricity in Namibia is 220 V. Visitors with devices and appliances will need a regulator. The sockets accept plugs with three-round pins arranged in a triangle. Adapters will be needed for plugs of a different shape.
The dialing code for Namibia is +264, while the area code for Windhoek is 61. The top three mobile network operators are MTC Namibia, Leo and Telecom Switch. It is possible to purchase local phone cards, but roaming is also available as Namibia has agreements with many international mobile operators. Do note that service may not be available in some of the more remote areas of the vast country. Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have Internet cafés, and accommodations, including game reserves, will often offer Internet facilities to guests.
Namibia allows visitors over the age of 18 to bring 50 ml of perfume, 250 ml of eau de toilette, two liters of wine, one liter of spirits, 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 g of tobacco, and gift items up to avalue of N $50,000 into the country for free. Rifles used for hunting will require a special permit from the customs authority. Importing endangered species will also require special authorization.
Namibia Tourism Board, Windhoek, Ground Floor, Channel Life Towers, 39 Post Street Mall, Private Bag 13244: +264-61-290-6000 or http://www.namibiatourism.com.na
Consulates in Namibia
Finnish Embassy, Windhoek: +264-61-221-355
Austrian Consulate, Windhoek: +264-61-375-652
Canadian Consulate, Windhoek: +264-61-251-254
German Embassy, Windhoek: +264-61-273-100
Consulate of the Netherlands, Windhoek: +264-61-223-733
Norwegian Consulate, Windhoek: +264-61-258-278
US Embassy, Windhoek: +264-61-295-8500
UK High Commission, Windhoek: +264-61-274-800
Police, Windhoek: 10111
Ambulance and Fire Brigade, Windhoek: 21 1111
Police and Fire Brigade, Luderitz: 20 2255
Ambulance, Luderitz: 20 2446
Police, Swakopmund: 10111
Ambulance, Swakopmund: 410 6000
Fire Brigade, Swakopmund: 410 4111
Police, Walvis Bay: 10111
Ambulance, Walvis Bay: 20 9832
Fire Brigade, Walvis Bay: 20 3117