Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Hochland, Auas and Eros Mountains. It is 1,680m above sea level, 650km north of the Orange River and 360km from the Atlantic seaboard. The city is situated in what is almost the country’s geographical centre. This location has obvious benefits when it comes to governing a country the size of Namibia, and also makes it the ideal place to begin your Namibian holiday. Windhoek is home to approximately three hundred and fifty thousand people, an extremely small capital by global standards. This number is growing rapidly at present mostly due to a lack of employment in rural areas.
The city centre is characterised by a proliferation of German style buildings, a lasting reminder of Namibia’s early colonial history. Early buildings such as the Alte Feste (old fort), Christuskirche and Tintenpalast (the parliament buildings) are of particular historical interest. Other notable buildings in Windhoek include St Mary’s Cathedral and the Turnhalle Building.
Windhoek has had several names over the years, many inspired by the hot water springs found in the area, the earliest of which were the Damara /Ais //Gams (/ indicates a click in Nama spelling) which means firewater, and the Herero Otjimuise or place of steam. Several opinions are offered for the origin of the present name; the most popular of these is that sometime before 1840 Jonker Afrikaner, a Nama leader, named the area Winterhoek, after the farm in South Africa where he was born. Windhoek, or windy corner, is a corruption of this name. During the day the city centre has a European cafe culture, German cuisine dominates, but Namibian influence can be found in the quantity and quality of meat on offer, (vegetarians be warned, Namibia is carnivorous country!) Saying that, the streets are choc-a-bloc with people of all ages and cultures, all bearing a wonderful sense of pride, hope and ambition.