ǀAi-ǁGams (Khoekhoegowab)
Otjomuise (Otjiherero)
Windhuk (German)
City of Windhoek
Flag of Windhoek
Coat of arms of Windhoek
Suum Cuique (Latin for "To each his own")
Windhoek is located in Namibia
Location of Windhoek in Namibia
Windhoek is located in Africa
Windhoek (Africa)
Coordinates: 22°34′12″S 17°5′1″E / 22.57000°S 17.08361°E / -22.57000; 17.08361
Country Namibia
RegionKhomas Region
First settled1840
 • TypeMayor-council government
 • MayorQueen Kamati (SWAPO)
 • Deputy MayorJoseph Uapingene (NUDO)
 • Total5,133 km2 (1,982 sq mi)
1,655 m (5,430 ft)
 (2023 census)[1]
 • Total486,169
 • Density95/km2 (250/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code
Area code061

Windhoek (/ˈwɪndhʊk/, Afrikaans: [ˈvəntɦuk], German: [ˈvɪnthʊk]) is the capital and largest city of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around 1,700 m (5,600 ft) above sea level, almost exactly at the country's geographical centre. The population of Windhoek, which was 486,169 in 2023,[2] is constantly growing due to a continued migration from other regions in 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 local pastoral tribes. It developed rapidly after Jonker Afrikaner, Captain of the Orlam, settled there 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.


See also: Timeline of Windhoek


Theories vary on how the city got its modern name of Windhoek. Most believe it is derived from the Afrikaans words wind (meaning wind) and hoek (meaning 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.[3]

Early settlement

In 1840 Jonker Afrikaner established an Orlam settlement at Windhoek.[4] He and his followers stayed near one of the main hot springs, located in the present-day Klein Windhoek suburb.[5] 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.[6][7] Gardens were laid out and for a while Windhoek prospered. A series of wars between the Nama and Herero tribes 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.[8]

Colonial era

Windhoek before 1908
German South West Africa stamp postmarked Windhuk
Sanderburg, one of the three castles of Windhoek

A request by merchants from Lüderitzbucht resulted in the declaration in 1884 of a German protectorate over what was called German South West 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.[9] Von François stationed his garrison at Windhoek, which was strategically situated as a buffer between the warring Nama and Herero peoples.[10] 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).[11][12] 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, had already fallen in 1915.[13] Until the end of the war, the city was administered by a South African military government, and no further development occurred.[14] 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.[15]

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.[8] 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.[16] 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 their own)".[17]

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.[18]

In 1971, the Namibian general contract workers started from Windhoek with the goal of abolishing the contract labour system, opposing apartheid, and promoting Namibia's independence.[19]

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.


The city is the administrative, commercial, and industrial centre 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%.[20] Due to its relative size[21] 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.[22] The governmental budget of the city of Windhoek nearly equals those of all other Namibian local authorities combined.[23] Of the 3,300 US$-millionaires in Namibia, 1,400 live in Windhoek.[24]



Windhoek skyline
Independence Avenue

Windhoek's three main access roads from Rehoboth, Gobabis, 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 120 km/h (75 mph) 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 approximately 40,000 km (25,000 mi) of Namibia's total road network, about 5,000 km (3,100 mi) is sealed.

In 2014, The Roads Authority planned to upgrade the Windhoek-Okahandja road to a dual carriageway. It would cost about N$1 billion and was expected to be completed in 2021. Later on, they also planned to upgrade the Windhoek and Hosea Kutako International Airport to a dual carriageway. This was 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.[25]


Windhoek is served by two airports, with the closest one being Eros Airport, located 7 km (4.3 mi) south of the city centre for smaller craft, and the other being Hosea Kutako International Airport, 42 km (26 mi) 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.

Airport with air traffic control tower (2017)

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 Lüderitz, Oranjemund, and Ondangwa.

Eros Airport is the busiest airport in Namibia in terms of takeoffs and landings.[26] This city airport handles approximately 150 to 200 movements per day, amounting to roughly 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 Railway Station

Windhoek is connected by rail to:


Auas Mountains
Rainy season

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.[27]

Windhoek's city council has plans to dramatically expand the city's boundaries such that the town area will cover 5,133.4 km2 (1,982.0 sq mi). Windhoek would become the third-largest city in the world by area,[citation needed] after Tianjin and Istanbul, although its population density is only 63 inhabitants per square kilometre.[28]


Windhoek is subdivided into the following suburbs and townships:[29]

In many of Windhoek's townships residents live in shacks. In 2020 the city had a total of 41,900 of these informal housing structures, accommodating close to 100,000 inhabitants.[31]

#1Lib1Ref #AfLibWk
Overcast skies in Windhoek


Windhoek has over 300 sunny days per year.[32] It experiences a hot semi-arid climate (BSh) according to Köppen climate classification as the annual average temperature is above 18 °C (64 °F). The temperature throughout the year would be called mild, due to altitude influence. The annual average high and low temperature range is 13.4 °C (24.1 °F). The coldest month is July, with an average temperature of 13.1 °C (55.6 °F), while the hottest month is December, with average temperature 23.5 °C (74.3 °F). 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 367.4 mm (14.46 in), with lows of 106.7 mm (4.20 in) in the 2018/19 rainy season, and 97 mm (3.8 in) in 1929/30.[33]

Climate data for Windhoek (1728 m), Namibia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 36.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 30.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 23.3
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 17.2
Record low °C (°F) 7.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 78.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 11.1 10.7 10.5 5.5 1.9 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.9 2.8 5.3 7.5 57.7
Average relative humidity (%) 42 56 51 44 37 32 27 19 17 22 30 34 34
Mean monthly sunshine hours 288 254 282 273 310 309 326 341 321 319 297 285 3,605
Source 1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[34]
Source 2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun only)[35]


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.[36] Windhoek's population currently stands at over 325,858 (65% black; 18% other; 17% white), and is growing 4% annually in part due to informal settlements that have even higher growth rates of nearly 10% a year.[27] In public life, Afrikaans, and to a lesser extent German, are still used as lingua francas even though the government only uses English. Currently Windhoek has a population of 431,000 as of 2020.[37]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.


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.[39] The council meets monthly; its decisions are taken collectively.

SWAPO 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.[40] 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.[41]

Twin towns and sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Namibia

Windhoek is twinned with:[42][43][44]


Independence Memorial Museum, aerial view (2017)

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,[45] 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.[46]

Places of worship

Christ Church, Windhoek

The places of worship are predominantly Christian churches and temples: those of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia, German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (all three members of the Lutheran World Federation), Baptist Convention of Namibia (Baptist World Alliance), Assemblies of God, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Windhoek (Catholic Church).[47] There are also a few Islamic mosques in the city, including the Windhoek Islamic Center.


Parliament Gardens
Tintenpalast in Windhoek


Rugby union is a popular sport in Namibia. The men's national team has qualified for the Rugby World Cup on seven consecutive occasions, in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023, but is yet to win a game at the tournament. The Welwitschias, who share their name with the national team, has competed in South Africa's domestic Rugby Challenge competition since 2021, and previously competed in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup.

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., SK Windhoek, Tigers F.C., Tura Magic F.C., and 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.[55] It has also played at other grounds in the city, including the United Ground and the Trans Namib Ground.[56][57] 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.[58] Farm Windhoek, located adjacent to the townlands and owned by the municipality, is a sports venue for hiking, running, and mountain biking.


The main campus of the University of Namibia

Tertiary institutions

The general institutions of higher education in Windhoek are:

Other institutions

Other recognisable institutions of higher learning:

Secondary schools

Windhoek has 29 secondary schools and 58 primary schools.[59] Some of the notable schools are:

Notable people

See also


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