In the 15th century, Portuguese seafarers discovered the dry and inaccessible areas on the coast of Southwest Africa on their way to India. Home to the Sam and Damara, the areas were also populated by the Herero, Narma and Ovambo in the 17th century.
As part of the expansive European colonial policy, the German Reich succeeded in acquiring the area from 1884. On May 1st 1983 the Bremen merchant Adolf Lüderitz acquired land in the later colony for the first time. German South West Africa is the largest and most economically significant German colony. Over 10,000 emigrants go to “Deutsch-Südwest” and settle there, especially as farmers and business people. The sad climax of German colonial policy is the uprising of the Nama and Herero (1904–1908), which leads to a genocide of the two ethnic groups.
After Germany’s defeat in 1918, South Africa was assigned the former colony as a League of Nations mandate in 1920. South West Africa became in fact a colony of South Africa. From 1948 on apartheid and the “homelands” system were introduced.
In response, the SWAPO, a Marxist liberation movement, emerges with the goal of independence. In 1988 the South African government changed its policy. With the help of the United Nations, a peace treaty is concluded with SWAPO. It includes the withdrawal of South African troops, free elections, the adoption of a constitution and finally Namibia’s independence.