Windhoek (, , ) is the capital and largest city of Namibia
. It is located in central Namibia in the ''Khomas Highland'' plateau area, at around above sea level, almost exactly at the country's geographical centre. The population of Windhoek in 2020 was 431,000 which is growing continually due to an influx from all over Namibia.
Windhoek is the social, economic, political, and cultural centre of the country. Nearly every Namibian national enterprise, governmental body, educational and cultural institution is headquartered there.
The city developed at the site of a permanent hot spring known to the indigenous pastoral
communities. It developed rapidly after Jonker Afrikaner
of the Orlam
, settled here in 1840 and built a stone church for his community. In the decades following, multiple wars and armed hostilities resulted in the neglect and destruction of the new settlement. Windhoek was founded a second time in 1890 by Imperial German Army
Major Curt von François
, when the territory was colonised by the German Empire
Economy and infrastructure
The city is the administrative, commercial, and industrial center of Namibia. A 1992/93 study estimated that Windhoek provides over half of Namibia's non-agricultural employment, with its national share of employment in utilities being 96%, in transport and communication 94%, finance and business services 82%. Due to its relative size Windhoek is, even more than many other national capital cities, the social, economic, and cultural centre of the country. Nearly every national enterprise is headquartered here. The University of Namibia
is, too, as are the country's only theatre, all ministry head offices, and all major media and financial entities.
The governmental budget of the city of Windhoek nearly equals those of all other Namibian local authorities combined.
Of the 3,300 US$-millionaires in Namibia, 1,400 live in Windhoek.
Windhoek's three main access roads from Rehoboth
, and Okahandja
are paved, and are designed to be able to withstand the largest possible flood to be expected in fifty years. Sealed roads can carry traffic moving at and should last for 20 years.
In 1928, Kaiserstraße, now Independence Avenue
, was the first paved road in Windhoek. Ten years later the next one, Gobabis road, now Sam Nujoma Drive, was also paved. Today out of ca. of Namibia's total road network, about is sealed
In 2014, The Roads Authority has planned to upgrade the Windhoek-Okahandja
road to a dual carriageway. It costs about N$1 billion and is expected to be completed in 2021. Later on, they also plan to upgrade the Windhoek and Hosea Kutako International Airport to a dual carriageway. This is expected to be completed in 2022.
As everywhere in Namibia, public transport is scarce and transportation across town is largely done by taxi; there were 6,492 registered taxis in 2013.
Windhoek is served by two airports, with the closest one being Eros
, south of the city center for smaller craft, and the other being Hosea Kutako International Airport
, east of the city. A number of foreign airlines operate to and from Windhoek. Air charters and helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft rentals are also available.
Hosea Kutako International Airport handles over 800,000 passengers a year. It has one runway without capacity limitations. The other international airport is located in Walvis Bay
, with domestic airports at Luderitz
is the busiest airport in Namibia in terms of take offs and landings. This city airport handles approximately 150 to 200 movements per day (around 50,000 per year). In 2004, the airport served 141,605 passengers, the majority of which are light aircraft. Primarily, limitations such as runway length, noise, and air space congestion have kept Eros from developing into a larger airport. Most of Namibia's charter operators have Eros as their base.
Windhoek is connected by rail
Expanding the town area has – apart from financial restrictions – proven to be challenging due to its geographical location. In southern, eastern and western directions, Windhoek is surrounded by rocky, mountainous areas, which make land development costly. The southern side is not suitable for industrial development because of the presence of underground aquifers
. This leaves the vast Brakwater
area north of town the only feasible place for Windhoek's expansion.
["Windhoek's battle for land"](_blank)
by Desie Heita; ''New Era,'' 10 Feb 2010
Windhoek's City Council has plans to dramatically expand the city's boundaries such that the town area will cover . Windhoek would become the third-largest city in the world by area, after Tianjin
, although its population density is only 63 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Windhoek is subdivided into the following suburbs and townships:
* Dorado Park
* Eros Park
* Freedom Land
* Groot Aub
(since September 2017)
* Greenwell Matongo
* Hochland Park
* Kleine Kuppe
* Klein Windhoek
* Lafrenz Industrial Area
* Northern Industrial Area
* Rocky Crest
* Southern Industrial Area
* Tauben Glen
* Windhoek Central
* Windhoek North
* Windhoek West
In many of Windhoek's townships residents live in shack
s. In 2020 the city had a total of 41,900 of these informal housing structures, accommodating close to 100,000 inhabitants.
Windhoek has over 300 sunny days per year. It experiences a hot semi-arid climate
(''BSh'') according to Köppen climate classification
as the annual average temperature is above . The temperature throughout the year would be called mild, due to altitude influence. The annual average high and low temperature range is . The coldest month is July, with an average temperature of , while the hottest month is December, with average temperature . Due to its location near the Kalahari Desert
, the city receives 3,605 hours of sunshine. Precipitation is abundant during the summer season, and minimal during the winter season. The average annual precipitation is , with lows of in the 2018/19 rainy season, and in 1929/30.
In 1971, there were roughly 26,000 whites living in Windhoek, outnumbering the black population of 24,000. About one third of white residents at the time, at least 9,000 individuals, were German speakers. Windhoek's population stands at over 325,858 (65% black; 17% white; 18% other), and is growing 4% annually in part due to informal settlement
s that have even higher growth rates of nearly 10% a year.
In public life, Afrikaans
, and to a lesser extent German
, are still used as lingua francas even though the government only uses English.
Local authority elections
Windhoek is the only self-governed settlement in Khomas Region. It is governed by a multi-party municipal council that has fifteen seats. The Council meets once a month (each last Wednesday of the month); its decisions are taken collectively and councillors are bound by such decisions. As individuals, council members have no administrative authority. They cannot give orders or otherwise supervise City employees unless specifically directed to do so by the Council. The Council, however, has complete authority over all administrative affairs in the city. Council members devote their official time to problems of basic policy and act as liaisons between the City and the general public.
won the 2015 local authority election
and gained twelve seats, by having 37,533 votes. Three opposition parties gained one seat each: The Popular Democratic Movement
(PDM), formerly DTA, with 4,171 votes, the National Unity Democratic Organisation
(NUDO) with 1,453 votes, and the Rally for Democracy and Progress
(RDP) with 1,422 votes. SWAPO also won the 2020 local authority election
but lost the majority control over the town council. It obtained 20,250 votes and gained five seats. The Independent Patriots for Change
(IPC), an opposition party formed in August 2020, obtained 14,028 votes and gained four seats. Two seats each went to the local branch of the Affirmative Repositioning
movement (8,501 votes) and the Landless People's Movement
(LPM, a new party registered in 2018, 7,365 votes). PDM (5,411 votes) and NUDO (1,455 votes) obtained one seat each.
Twin towns – sister cities
Windhoek is twinned
, South Africa
, United States
* San Antonio
, United States
Windhoek is known as the art capital of Namibia. The National Art Gallery
, National Theatre
and the National Museum
are all located here. Two locations are part of the National Museum, the Alte Feste
(historical) showcases a range of colonial items such as wagons and domestic items, while the Owela Museum
(scientific; named after Owela
, a traditional game played with pebbles) contains displays of minerals, fossils and meteorites and gives an insight into traditional village life. There are also the Independence Memorial Museum
, the National Library of Namibia
and the Windhoek Public Library
, built in 1925, next to the Alte Feste.
Places of worship
The places of worship
are predominantly Christian
churches and temples: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia
(Lutheran World Federation
), Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia
(Lutheran World Federation
), Baptist Convention of Namibia
(Baptist World Alliance
), Assemblies of God
, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Windhoek
). There are also a few Islamic
mosques in the city.
thumb|Tintenpalast in Windhoek
* Alte Feste
– (''Old Fortress'') Built in 1890, today houses the National Museum.
* Curt von François monument in front of the municipality building. Inaugurated on 18 October 1965 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the second foundation of the town by von François.
* Heroes' Acre
* Reiterdenkmal (''Equestrian Monument''), a statue celebrating the victory of the German Empire over the Herero and Nama in the Herero and Namaqua War of 1904–1907] The statue has been removed from its historical place next to ''Christuskirche'' in December 2013 and is now on display in the yard of the ''Alte Feste''.
* Supreme Court of Namibia – situated in Michael Scott Street on Eliakim Namundjebo Plaza. Built between 1994 and 1996 it is Windhoek's only building erected post-independence in an African style of architecture.
* The three castles of Windhoek built by architect Wilhelm Sander: Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg
* Tintenpalast – (''Ink Palace'') within Parliament Gardens, the seat of both chambers of the Parliament of Namibia. Built between 1912 and 1913 and situated just north of ''Robert Mugabe Avenue''.
* Turnhalle – neo-classicist building of Wilhelmine architecture, inaugurated in 1909.
* Windhoek Railway Station
* Zoo Park – a public park on Independence Avenue in downtown Windhoek. The current park is landscaped and features a pond, playground and open-air theatre.
Rugby is a popular sport in Namibia, and the national team is called the ''Welwitchias''. Namibia has made the Rugby World Cup on six occasions, in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019, but has never won a game.
The city has several football clubs which include African Stars F.C., Black Africa F.C., F.C. Civics Windhoek, Orlando Pirates F.C., Ramblers F.C. and SK Windhoek, Tigers F.C., Tura Magic F.C., Citizens F.C.
Many boxers such as Paulus Moses, Paulus Ambunda and Abmerk Shindjuu are from the city.
The Namibia national cricket team, the Eagles, plays the majority of its home games at the Wanderers Cricket Ground. It has also played at other grounds in the city, including the United Ground and the Trans Namib Ground. The team took part in the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, though they lost all their games. They have played in each edition of the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Men's baseball was introduced to Namibia in 1950 at the Ramblers sports club in town.
The 'Tony Rust Raceway' is located west of Windhoek on the Daan Viljoen road, and reopened in 2007.
The general institutions of higher education in Windhoek are:
* University of Namibia (UNAM)
* Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), until 2015 the ''Polytechnic of Namibia''
* International University of Management (IUM)
Other recognisable institutions of higher learning:
* Institute of Information Technology (IIT)
* College of the Arts (COTA)
Windhoek 29 secondary schools and 58 primary schools. Some of the notable schools are:
* A. Shipena Secondary School
* Academia Secondary School
* Augustineum Secondary School
* Centaurus High School
* Concordia College
* Dagbreek School for the Intellectually Impaired
* Cosmos High School
* David Bezuidenhout Secondary School
* Delta Secondary School Windhoek (DSSW)
* Deutsche Höhere Privatschule (DHPS)
* Ella du Plessis High School
* Eros School for Girls
* Hage Geingob High School
* Holy Cross Convent School
* Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School
* Jakob Marengo Secondary School
* Jan Jonker Afrikaner High School
* Jan Möhr Secondary School
* Saint George's Diocesan College
* Pionier Boys' School
* Saint Paul's College
* Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaatskool
* Windhoek Gymnasium Private School (WGPS)
* Windhoek High School (WHS)
* Windhoek International School (WIS)
Theories vary on how the place got its modern name of Windhoek. Most believe it is derived from the Afrikaans word ''wind-hoek'' (wind corner). Another theory suggests that Captain Jonker Afrikaner named Windhoek after the Winterhoek Mountains at Tulbagh in South Africa, where his ancestors had lived. The first known mention of the name ''Windhoek'' was in a letter from Jonker Afrikaner to Joseph Tindall, dated 12 August 1844.
In 1840 Jonker Afrikaner established an Orlam settlement at Windhoek. He and his followers stayed near one of the main hot springs, located in the present-day Klein Windhoek suburb. He built a stone church that held 500 people; it was also used as a school. Two Rhenish missionaries, Carl Hugo Hahn and Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt, started working there in late 1842. Two years later they were driven out by two Methodist Wesleyans, Richard Haddy and Joseph Tindall.
Gardens were laid out and for a while Windhoek prospered. Wars between the Nama and Herero peoples eventually destroyed the settlement. After a long absence, Hahn visited Windhoek again in 1873 and was dismayed to see that nothing remained of the town's former prosperity. In June 1885, a Swiss botanist found only jackals and starving guinea fowl amongst neglected fruit trees. [Windhoek City Council: The History of Windhoek](_blank)
A request by merchants from Lüderitzbucht resulted in the declaration in 1884 of a German protectorate over what was called German Southwest Africa (''Deutsch-Südwestafrika''), now Namibia. The borders of the German colony were determined in 1890 and Germany sent a protective corps, the ''Schutztruppe'' under Major Curt von François, to maintain order. Von François stationed his garrison at Windhoek, which was strategically situated as a buffer between the Nama and Herero peoples. The twelve strong springs provided water for the cultivation of produce and grains.
Colonial Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890, when von François fixed the foundation stone of the fort, which is now known as the Alte Feste (Old Fortress).
After 1907, development accelerated as indigenous people migrated from the countryside to the growing town to seek work. More European settlers arrived from Germany and South Africa. Businesses were erected on Kaiser Street (presently Independence Avenue), and along the dominant mountain ridge over the city. At this time, Windhoek's three castles, Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg, were built.
South African administration after World War I
The German colonial era came to an end after the end of World War I but South West Africa, and with it Windhoek, already fell in 1915. Until the end of the war the city was administered by a South African military government, and no further development occurred.
In 1920, after the Treaty of Versailles, the territory was placed under a League of Nations Class C mandate and again administered by South Africa. [Ieuan Griffith]
After World War II more capital became available to improve the area's economy. After 1955, large public projects were undertaken, such as the building of new schools and hospitals, tarring of the city's roads (a project begun in 1928 with Kaiser Street), and the building of dams and pipelines to stabilise the water supply.
Walvis Bay: exclave no more
''Geography'', Vol. 79, No. 4 (October 1994), page 354
The city introduced the world's first potable re-use plant in 1958, treating recycled sewage and sending it directly into the town's water supply. On 1 October 1966 the then Administrator of South West Africa granted Windhoek the coat of arms, which was registered on 2 October 1970 with the South African Bureau of Heraldry. Initially a stylized aloe was the principal emblem, but this was amended to a natural aloe (''Aloe littoralis'') on 15 September 1972. The Coat of Arms is described as "A Windhoek aloe with a raceme of three flowers on an island. Crest: A mural crown Or. Motto: SUUM CUIQUE (''To each his own'')".
Windhoek formally received its town privileges on 18 October 1965 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the second foundation of the town by von François.
Since Namibian independence
Since independence in 1990, Windhoek has remained the national capital, as well as the provincial capital of the central Khomas Region. Since independence and the end of warfare, the city has had accelerated growth and development.
* List of mayors of Windhoek
* List of cemeteries in Windhoek
Official homepage of the City of Windhoek – Windhuk
Category:Populated places in the Khomas Region
Category:Regional capitals in Namibia
Category:German South West Africa
Category:1840 establishments in South West Africa
Category:Populated places established in 1840
Category:Cities in Namibia
Category:Capitals in Africa