Windhoek is the capital and largest city in Namibia, located pretty much in the center of this long, narrow country.
Windhoek was among the first settlements in Namibia, for the Herero people and later the colonists, because of the potable water from its hot springs. In the mid-1800s Afrikaner Jan Jonker established the first modern settlement in the present-day Klein-Windhoek, an upper-class suburb of Windhoek.
In 1878, Britain annexed Walvis Bay and incorporated it into the Cape of Good Hope in 1884, but Britain didn’t want to extend its influence into an area it felt totally undesirable, a bushland desert it considered without merit. The Afrikaners, though, who had already settled and begun some limited farming felt threatened by Britain and requested the Kaiser to protect them. In 1884 the Germans declared the area the protectorate, German West Africa.
After 1907, development accelerated as people migrated from the countryside to the city and also some immigrated from outside the country. There was also a larger influx of European settlers arriving from Germany and South Africa. Businesses were erected on Kaiser Street, present Independence Avenue, and along the dominant mountain ridge over the city, including the three eye-catching castles.
The German colonial era came with World War I and South African troops occupied Windhoek in May 1915 on behalf of the British Empire. For the next five years, a military government administered South West Africa. Development of the city of Windhoek and the nation later to be known as Namibia came to a virtual standstill.
The turmoil between World War I and II led Britain to cede more and more control to South Africa. After World War II the League of Nations officially gave South Africa jurisdiction of the area.
Large public projects were undertaken, such as the building of new schools and hospitals, hardening of the city’s roads and the building of dams and pipelines to finally stabilize the water supply.
In 1990 South Africa gave Namibia independence, but retained control of Walvis Bay, something that grew increasingly contentious during the war against apartheid. One of the first things that Nelson Mandela did after being elected president of the new South African republic in 1994 was to cede Walvis Bay to Namibia.
Today Windhoek is a multicultural city pulsing with life, opportunity and the promise of adventure! Visitors and residents alike enjoy the best of both worlds from European-style culture and comforts to the vivid drumbeats of Africa.