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Once a German colony, Namibia had been occupied and annexed by South Africa. In 1966 the Marxist South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) guerrillas launched a war of independence and, with the blessing of the United Nations, Namibia became independent in 1990.

Mining is the biggest business in the country: diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, silver, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, tungsten and salt. A 2005 UN report indicated that one than one-third of country's 2.1 million people live on $1 a day; more than half live on $2 per day.

  • The predominant religion is Lutheran. Literacy rate is about 85 percent; most children stop schooling at age 12.
  • Barely more than 4 percent of the population lives to age 65 or older. A high infant mortality rate is combined with death from AIDS, malaria and typhoid fever.
  • Bounded by two deserts, Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution, with the entire Namib Desert coastal strip on the Atlantic Ocean protected.

Source: CIA World Fact Book