Primary Sources
Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Atlas of Germany's Colonies and Illustrated Yearbook, edited by the German Colonial Society, 1908, Deutsch-Südwestafrika
Deutsch-Südwestafrika (p.17)

Size : 835 100 square km (= 1 ½ 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; Britain is our neighbour to the south and east, while in the north we border on Portuguese territory (Angola). The thin stretch of land reaching to the Zambezi is popularly called "Caprivi Strip".

Population : On January 1st 1907 [1908 !]: 8213 whites, among them 6215 Germans and 1446 women; in comparison 1903 3815 whites, 2173 Germans, 670 women. The indigenous population, as far as it (p.18) subject to the administration, consists of (according to censi and estimates) 16,000 Hereros, 16,000 Bergdamara, 13,000 Hottentots, 7,000 Bushmen, 2,000 Owambos. Without the Owambos another estimate counts 50,000 coloureds. To these are added 3,500 of mixed descent, 2,500 of whom the Bastards of Rehoboth. The Owambo (about 60,000), a Bantu tribe in Amboland, between the 18th degree southern latitude and the Kunene, are labourers prized on farms, railway construction sites and similar sites.

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 Karasgebirge, between Rehoboth and Windhuk the Auasgebirge (2130 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, but which should not be imagined as deserted and infertile.

Irrigation : Only the Orange and Kunene, as well as the Okawango, feeding into Lake Ngami, have water year round, but are not navigable.

Figure : Haigamchab, at the entrance of the garden of settler Voss

Also the Fish River feeding into the Oranje never dries up totally. 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, Kuiseb). 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. Amboland : 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 artificial irrigation, the cultivation of grain, maize, figs, dates, tobacco etc. possible. In the north cotton.

Fauna : sea off the coast a rich fishing ground, water fowl on the offshore islands (Guano reservoirs). 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. Results of livestock count 1908 : cattle 73,000 (1903 : 90,385). (p.19)meat sheep : 193,000 (1903 : 182,541); wool sheep 12,000 (1903 : 4,301); Angora goats 4,000 (1903 : 3,391); ordinary goats 156,000 (1903 : 156,727); horses 6,500 (1903 : 5,265); all numbers without the livestock owned by the Schutztruppe.

Minerals : near Karibib obviously good quality marble. In the region Otawi, near Gorob and at a number of other places copper deposits which make exploitation profitable. Value of the minerals shipped 1907 1,300,000 Mark. 
Near Lüderitzbucht diamonds have been found in the sand dunes, mostly of a weight of less than one carat, but up to three carat.

Trade : imported are almost all objects of the European market, especially drinks, tobacco, coffee, sugar, canned food, flour, rice, clothing.
Exported are skins, cattle, small domestic animals, copper, skins, horns, ostrich feathers, resins, tannins, guano (Cape Cross). For value of export and import see table on page 4 [5-8].

Transportation : Navigation : Swakopmund roadsted has been frequented in 1907 by 194 steamers wity a total of more than 720,000 reg. tons, the port of Lüderitzbucht by 165 steamers with c. 580,000 reg. tons. The overwhelming majority were German, while still last year almost a third sailed under the English flag. In 1907/08 (April to March) in Swakopmund 2441 persons arrived (without Schutztruppe), 1592 persons departed (without military); in Lüderitzbucht in the same period arrivals 1373, departed 1489. Transit price : Woermann Line Hamburg-Swakopmund I. class 602.50 M., II. class 402.50 M., intermediate deck 252,50 M.

Figure : Koppel Railway construction : worker at the rail head laying rails

Land transportation : 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). The railway Swakopmud-Otawi until Tsumeb (570 km), completed in September 1906; a daily train between Swakopmund and Karibib, three times a week between Usakos and Tsumeb. Line Lüderitzbucht-Keetmanshoop in service since July 1908. Newly approved and under construction a branch line from Seeheim not far from Keetmanshoop southward until Kalkfontein (c. 185 km) has been approved. Lately transportation experiments with camels and more dubious ones with motor cars.
Post and Telegraphs : at the end of 1907 : 60 offices, of them 26 with telegraph service and 11 with local telephone service; 2,417 km land telegraph lines and 246 km sea cables. Traffic 1907 : 5,772,000 letters, 156,000 postal money orders over 32,900,000 M., 95,000 parcels, 730,000 newspaper issues, 327,000 telegrams, 793,000 telephone calls. Postal connections : five times a month, time for delivery 20-26 days. Telegram fee per word 2,75 M.

Administration : At the top the Governor (at present v. Schuckmann), seat Windhuk. The protectorate is divided in twelve districts : Keetmanshoop, Lüderitzbucht, Gibeon, Rehoboth, Gobabis, Windhuk, Swakopmund, Karibib, Okahandja, Omaruru, Grootfontein and Outjo. (A new mining ordinance is in force since January 1st 1906.) The establishment of chambers of commerce in Lüderitzbucht and Swakopmund and of an agricultural camber in Windhuk are in progress. By decree of the Reich Chancellor of January 28th 1909 self-administration has been introduced for Deutsch-Südwestafrika by the introduction of community associations (Windhuk, Swakopmund and Luderitzbucht, Keetmanshoop, Karibib, Omaruru, Okahandja, Tsumeb, Warmbad und Usakos), district associations and of a land council.

Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch, (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by P. Sprigade und M. Moisel, Yearbook and Remarks by Hubert Henoch. Berlin 1909, p.17ff.

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