Primary Source
Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook, edited by the German Colonial Society, 1907, Deutsch-Südwestafrika

Size : 835 100 square km (= 1 1/2 times Deutsches Reich).
The Guano Islands located off the coast (between 24 degrees 37 minutes and 28 degrees south), as well as Walvisch Bay, only half an hour distant from Swakopmund, are in British possession.

Population : About 200 000. (? for the time being more precise figures can not be given). Most numerous group among the indigenous are still the Herero, a Bantu tribe. The Bergdamara (according to missionary Viehe numbering 35 000), appear anywhere in Deutsch-Südwestafrika south of the Etosha depression and live in small groups between the Herero and the Hottentots. The Hottentots or Nama (of yellow skin) are to be found in Gross-Namaland and in a part of the Kaokofeld. The Owambo (about 60 000), a Bantu tribe in Amboland, between the 18th degree southern latitude and the Kunene. The bushmen, numbering a few thousand, live unrestrained in the Kalahari and in the area between Etosha depression and Damaraland. The Bastards, most populous settlement near Rehoboth (all of them Christians), are of mixed European and Hottentot descent (a little over 2000 in number). In 1906 the white population numbered 6366, of them 707 women and 807 children.

Geomorphology : In its entire extent Deutsch-Südwestafrika is a terrasse landscape, first rising gently, then steep, up to 1200 m., which c. 300 km inland begins to descend toward the interior. The width of the coastal desert girdle (Namib) is several day's rides; the valleys of the larger rivers form oases. In the interior various singular, irregularly distributed mountain ranges, tops and mountain chains are located, which rise several 100 m over the average surrounding landscape (gneiss und granite). In the south the 2000 m high Karrasgebirge, between Rehoboth and Windhuk the Auasgebirge (2481 m high), further north Mt. Omatako (2680 m). To the east the plateau descends to the Kalahari steppe, which in its interior is located 500 m lower.

Irrigation : All existing rivers are not navigable. Only the Orange and Kunene, as well as the Okawango, feeding into (p.14) Lake Ngami, have water year round, but are not navigable. The other rivers feeding into the Atlantic Ocean are dry for most of the year and rarely form continuous bodies of water even during the rainy season (Swakop, Kuisseb). There are a considerable number of sources in Hereroland; here precipitation is higher than in Gross-Namaland. The question of the opening-up of water resources, of hydroelectric dams etc., is the most important problem in the protectorate. Opening of fountains by drilling columns.

Climate : The climate is hot in the summer, but dry and healthy. The winter is moderate. Night frosts are not rare in the interior. The coastal stretch is continuously cool; up to 50 km inland the only form of precipitation is fog. Dominating winds from southern direction, in the warmer half of the year (October-March) also winds from northern direction, which cause the main rainy season, between January and March. The average annual temperature in Windhuk is 20o, in the coolest month, July, 19o, in the warmest, January, 25o.

Flora : in the coastal Namib desert girdle vegetation lacks almost totally. Ovamboland : tropical vegetation (baobab, palm tree etc.), Damaraland : steppe and thornbush with oasis-like groves of Ana- and Acacia trees. Namaland : grass steppe, almost treeless. With irrigation, the cultivation of grain, maize, potatoes, figs, dates etc. possible.

Fauna : sea off the coast a rich fishing ground, water fowl on the offshore islands (Guano deposits). In the northern parts of the colony a purely tropical fauna (big game such as elephants, giraffes, predators, apes). Damaraland is better suited for breeding large size livestock, Namaland for small size livestock.

Minerals : near Karibib obviously good quality marble. In the region Otavi, near Gorob and at a number of other places copper deposits which make exploitation profitable. Diamond finds are probable.

Trade and Transportation : the protectorate has no harbour. Swakopmund is only an open roadsted. Landing conditions, however, now are tolerable. Lately the nice harbour of Lüderitzbucht has been used. The British Walvisch Bay gradually silts up. Medium of transportation in the interior is the oxcart; pulled by 10 to 20 oxen, it covers, loaden with 1500 to 2500 kg, 18 to 35 km per day. Between Swakopmund and Windhuk operates a 60 cm-gauge field railway since Juli 1902 (382 km). Passenger trains go twice a week, freight trains as required. The railway Swakopmud-Otawi until Tsumeb (570 km), completed in September 1906. Line Lüderitzbucht-Kubub (Aus) 167 km, completed since October 1906, shall be continued, for the time being, until Keetmanshoop. A branch line from Seeheim not far from Keetmanshoop southward until Kalkfontein (c. 185 km) has been approved in 1908. Lately transportation experiments with camels and with motor cars.
Imported are almost all objects of the European market, especially drinks, tobacco, coffee, canned food, flour, rice, clothing. Imports 1902 : 9,567,550 M., 1903 : 7,930,754 M., 1904 : 10,056,946 M., 1905 : 23,631,881M.
Exported are skins, cattle, small domestic animals, copper, skins, horns, ostrich feathers, resins, tannins, guano (Cape Cross), raw fur. Exports 1902 : 2,212,973 M., 1903 : 3,443,511 M., 1904 : 298,678 M., 1905 : 215,893 M.
Transfer Passage : Woermann Line Hamburg-Swakopmund I. class 602.50 M., II. class 402.50 M., intermediate deck 252.50 M.

Post and Telegraphy : at the end of 1906 : 44 offices, of them 19 with telegraph service and 5 with local telephone service; 1,692 km land telegraph lines and 246 km sea cables. Traffic 1905 : 10,093,200 letters, 136,712 postal money orders over 34,031,300 M., 189,135 parcels, 441,091 newspaper issues, 196,716 telegrams, 330,838 telephone calls. Postal connections : five times a month, time for delivery 22-30 days. Telegram fee per word 2,75 M.

Administration : At the top the Governor (at present v. Lindequist), seat Windhuk. The protectorate is divided in six districts : Keetmanshoop, Gibeon, Windhuk, Swakopmund, Karibib and Outjo. To these are added the areas Gobabis, Omaruru, Okahandja, Bethanien, Warmbad, Rehoboth and Groorfontein. The mining administration is seated in Windhuk. (A new mining ordinance is in force since January 1st 1906.)


Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch (Atlas German Colonies with Yearbook), edited by the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society). Berlin 1907, p.13f

GM (digitalisation) and AG (translation) 
posted on the web for psm-data; many thanks to

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin / Preußischer Kulturbesitz 

Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz


Dokument in deutscher Sprache