Primary Source
Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Atlas of Germany's Colonies and Illustrated Yearbook, edited by P. Sprigade and M. Moisel, 1913, Deutsch-Suedwestafrika
Deutsch-Südwestafrika (S. 23)

History : In 1883 merchant Adolf Lüderitz from Bremen signed treaties with indigenous "captains", by means of which he acquired Angra Pequena and the adjacent coast. Prince Bismarck, via telegram of April 24th 1884, addressed to the German consul in Cape Town, placed this acquisition under German protection - with the exception of Walvis Bay. The borders were fixed by treaties with Portugal in 1886 and with Britain in 1890. Several native rebellions against German rule have taken place, in 1889 caused by the Briton's Lewis' intrigues, in 1893 under Hendrik Witboi (the storming of Hornkranz), 1896 of the Kauas Hottentots, 1904 of the Herero and Hottentots (Battles of Waterberg 11. 8. 1904, near Gross-Nabas new yeears 1905, under General von Trotha resp. Major Meister). 

Size and Borders : 835,100 square km (150 % the size of the Reich). The Guano Islands located off the coast (between 24 degr. 37 min. and 28 degrees s.) and the Walvis Bay area, only half an hour from Swakopmund, are British possession (Union of South Africa), which is also our neighbour to the south and east. In the north we border on Portuguese territory (Angola). The penhandle reaching to the Zambezi river (upstream of the falls) is generally called "Caprivi-Strip". 

Population : On Jan. 1st 1908 : 8,213 whites, of them 6,215 Germans and 1,446 women. 1909 : 9,410 whites, 6,629 Germans, 1,358 German women, 1910 : 12,936 whites, 10,226 Germans, 2,173 women, 1911 : 13,962 whites, 11,140 Germans, 2,468 adult women. 1912 : 14,816 whites, 12,135 Germans, 4,329 adult women. (The Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft has, in 1898-1912, paid subsidies for the transit of 1,730 German women and girls). In 1903 the number of white residents 3,815, of the Germans 2,173, of women 670. The indigenous population, as far as subjected to German administration, has been established at 20,000 Herero, 19,600 Mountain Damara, 14,000 Nama and 10,000 bushmen. The Ovambo, about 60,000, a Bantu tribe residing in Amboland between the 18th degree southern latitude and the Kunene are workers highly esteemed on farms, on railwau construction sites and elsewhere. Furthermore, 6,500 Kaffers from the Cape Colony earn their living in the protectorate, so that the total coloured population of the colony amounts to minimum 150,000. 

Morphology : In it's full extent, Deutsch-Südwestafrika ia a landscapre rising in several, partly steep terrasses up to 1,200 m altitude which from 300 km inland begind to decline into the interior. The wisth of the coastal desert (Namib) amounts to several say's journeys; valleys of the greater rivers form oases. In the interior there are many singular mountain ridges which surmount the surrounding landcape by several 100 m (gneiss and granite). In the south the 2000 m high Karas Mountain Range, between Rehoboth and Windhuk the Auas Mountain Range (2,481 m), further north Mt. Omatako (2,680 m). Toward the east the plateau declines toward the 500 m lower located Kalahari Steppe which has to be imagined anything but barren and lacking of vegetation. 

Irrigation : Of the protectorates rivers only the Oranje and Kunene, and the Okavango which empties into Lake Ngami have water year round, but they are not navigable. Also the Fish River, feeding into the Oranje, never totallt dries up. The other rivers feeding into the Atlantic are dry for most of the year and even during the rainy season they seldom form continuous veins of water (Swakop, Kniseb); they are called 'Riviere' in Cape Dutch. There are a number of sources in Hereroland; here the annual precipitation is higher than in Gross-Namaland. The question of securing safe supplies of water through the construction of dams etc. is the most important in the protectorate. Ground water is tapped and searched for by drilling columns. In addition, water is searched for using dipping rods. 

Climate : The climate is hot in the summer, but dry and healthy. The winter is rather moderate; night frosts are not rare in the interior. The coastal region is continuously cool; within 50 km inward the only form of precipitation is dew. Wind mostly from the south, in the warmer half of the year (October-March) also winds from the north, which cause the main rainy season between January and March. The average annual temperature is 20 degrees Celsius in Windhuk, in the coolest month, Juli, 19, in the hottest month, January, 35 degrees. 

Flora : in the coastal desert 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 irrigation, the cultivation of grain, maize, potatoes, figs, dates, wine, tobacco etc. possible. In the north, cotton is growing. 

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 : cattle 1912 : 172,000, 1911 : 144,000, 1910 : 121,000, 1909 : 96,000, 1908 : 73,000, 1903 : 90,385. meat sheep : 1912 435,000, 1911 : 381,000, 1910 : 344,000, 1909 : 281,000, 1908 : 198,000, 1903 : 182,541; wool sheep 1912 : 47,000, 1911 : 32,000, 1910 : 29,000, 1909 : 20,000, 1908 : 12,000, 1903 : 4,301; Angora goats 1912 : 20,000, 1911 : 10,000, 1910 : 8,000, 1909 : 4,500, 1908 : 4,000, 1903 : 3,391; ordinary goats 1912 : 448,000; 1911 : 385,000, 1910 : 319,000, 1909 : 238,000, 1908 : 156,000, 1903 : 156,000; horses 1912 : 13,000, 1911 : 12,700, 1910 : 10,600, 1909 : 8,300, 1908 : 6,500, 1903 : 5,265; ostriches 1912 : 1,277, 1911 : 640, 1910 : 330; pigs 1911 : 7,800, 1910 : 5,200, all numbers without the livestock owned by the Schutztruppe. 

Agriculture : 1912 : 1,245 farmers, 1911 : 1,141, 1910 : 1,047. The area covered by farms totaled in 1912 13 million ha, in 1911 11.75 million ha, in 1910 10.75 million ha. Of these farmers in 1912, 858 were Germans, in 1911 892, in 1910 796. In 1912, 94 were Englishmen (from the Cape), in 1911 : 121, in 1910 : 128. Most Englishmen (from the Cape) reside in the districts Keetmanshoop, Warmbad and Hasuur. 

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. Total value of the ores/minerals shipped in 1909 about 21 million Mark, in 1910 over 33 million Mark, 1911 only 27 million Mark. Numerous diamonds have been found since 1908 in the dunes near Lüderitzbucht, most of them of a weight of less than 1 karat, but some up to 3 karat. In the Kaokofeld deposits of gold and iron have been determined; the exploitation of which is not possible without a railway line. 

Trade : imported are almost all products of the European market, especially beverages, tobacco, coffee, sugar, canned food, flour, rice, clothing. Exported are hides, cattle, small animals, copper, diamonds, antlers, ostrich feathers, resins, dye stuffs, guano (Cap Cross). 

Traffic :
shipping : Swakopmund roadsted has been frequented in 1909 by 144 steamers with 523,000 tons, Lüderitzbucht port by 108 steamers with 434,000 tons, 1910 191 steamers / 674,000 tons resp. 594,000 tons, 1911 togerther 385 steamers, 1.25 million tons. The vast majority was German, while last year almost one third sailed under the British flag. Price for a transit ticket : Woermann Line Hamburg-Swakopmund 1st class 602.50 M, 2nd class 402.50, steerage 252.50 M. 

Overland Transportation : in the interior, the main means of transportation for persons and freight is the ox-cart; pulled by 10-20 oxen, it covers a distance of 18 to 35 km a day, pulling a load of 30 to 50 hundredweight. Between Swakopmund and Windhoek a narrow-gauge railway operates since 1902 (382 km), which now has been replaced by the Otawi Line Swakopmund-Karibib. The Line Swakopmud-Otawi has been opened until Tsumeb in Sept. 1906 until Tsumeb (570 km, Cape gauge); of this line deriving the Line Otawi-Grootfontein, constructed in 1908 by the South West Africa Company, 98 km, 60 cm gauge width; two trains weekly; one train daily between Swakopmund and Karibib, three times a week between Usakos and Tsumeb. Karibib-Windhoek reconstructed in 1910. Line Lüderitzbucht-Keetmanshoop operated since July 1908. In 1908 finished was the tributary line from Seeheim near Keetmanshoop southward to Kalkfonein 183 km. Since 1912 line Windhoek-Keetmanshopp 528 km (north-south-line). 

Postal and Telegraph Service : End 1912 : 95 offices, of which 82 with telegraph service, 28 with local telephone service; 2,358 km overland telegraph cables, in total 6,407 km telegraph cables. 1911 : 6,495,300 letters, 251,089 postal money orders over a total amount of 39,906,350 Mark, 13,527 parcels, 1,534,000 newspaper issues, 424,158 telegrams, 2,419,940 telephone calls. Postal delivery (Germany-SWA) : 5 times weekly. Time of delivery : 20 to 25 days. Telegram fee per word 2,75 Mark.

Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch, (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by P. Sprigade und M. Moisel. Berlin 1913, p.23f

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