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Place names

1.06 The meaning of place names7

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The name 'Namibia' is derived from the word 'Namib', which describes a vast open space in Khoekhoegowab, the Nama and Damara language. Some place names in Namibia have been in use for hundreds of years, while others were assigned more recently. The derivations of the names of the 58 places numbered in the map above are given in the following table.

1 Arandis The place where people cry
2 Aranos 'Ara' (from the name 'Arahoab') and 'nos' (from the town's location on the Nossob River)
3 Aroab Aro (Ziziphus mucronata) and '!ab' (river)
4 Berseba Oath at the well; or seven wells
5 Bethanie House of misery
6 Bukalo Where people live
7 Divundu Marsh
8 Eenhana Stockade for calves
9 Gibeon After Gibeon, a city of the Old Testament
10 Gobabis Place of strife or argument (from 'Khoabes')
11 Gochas Place with many Acacia hebeclada shrubs
12 Grootfontein Large fountain
13 Helao Nafidi After Helao Nafidi, a military commissar
14 Henties Bay After Hendrik 'Henty' van der Merwe, who came across the bay in 1929 on his search for water
15 Kalkrand Limestone ridge
16 Kamanjab The place of the big stones
17 Karasburg Stony mountain
18 Karibib From |karibi (nut grass)
19 Katima Mulilo To quench the fire
20 Keetmanshoop Keetman's Hope
21 Khorixas Mustard tree (Salvadora persica)
22 Koës Place of villains; meat from the shin; or grey go-away-bird (Corythaixoides concolor)
23 Leonardville After Reverend EJ Leonard
24 Lüderitz After Adolf Lüderitz, who 'bought' the bay in 1883
25 Luhonono After the luhonono tree (Terminalia sericea)
26 Maltahöhe Malta's heights
27 Mariental Maria's valley
28 Nkurenkuru Old (or original) home
29 Okahandja Plain or flat place
30 Okahao Calabash
31 Okakarara Also known as Erari (flat area); rara or rar- denotes sleep
32 Okongo A place or a forest for hunting
33 Omaruru Place of bitter milk
34 Omuthiya Camel-thorn tree (Acacia erioloba)
35 Ondangwa Place of the Ndonga
36 Ongwediva Where leopards drink
37 Oniipa Thick skin, after fruits of the African ebony tree (Diospyros mespiliformis)
38 Opuwo Enough
39 Oranjemund Mouth of the Orange [River]
40 Oshakati Centre
41 Oshikuku Sandy place
42 Otavi Water spurting from the spring, like milk from a cow's udder when a calf nurses roughly
43 Otjinene Large place
44 Otjiwarongo Beautiful place
45 Outapi Burning place (also Uutapi)
46 Outjo Small hill
47 Rehoboth Broad place or room
48 Ruacana The rapids
49 Rundu High place
50 Stampriet Stamped reeds
51 Swakopmund Swakop after the Khoekhoegowab Tsoaxaub for excrement, probably because the Swakop River spews brown water into the sea when in flood. 'Mund' is German for river mouth.
52 Tsandi Named after Otsandi, a nearby water source
53 Tses Place of daylight
54 Tsumeb From tsoumsoub, to dig in loose ground, and otjisume, place of frogs
55 Usakos The place that grasps the hoof (from the clingy yellow clay at local water sources)
56 Walvis Bay Whale bay
57 Windhoek Windy corner; alternatively, might have been named after 'Winterhoek' in the Cape
58 Witvlei White marsh

Photo: Ikiwaner (https:// commons. wiki)

'Oshikoto' means 'a deep hole', a reference to Lake Otjikoto near Tsumeb. The lake was an underground aquifer which became exposed when its roof of rock collapsed.


Photo: J Mendelsohn

'Omusati' is Oshiwambo for mopane (Colophospermum mopane), the abundant hardwood trees found in arid rocky areas of northwestern Namibia and on alluvial soils in the Cuvelai.


Photo: RadarSat data March 2011, European Space Agency

Oshana is the singular form of 'iishana' in Oshiwambo. It refers to a network of about 100 shallow channels of the Cuvelai drainage system that periodically flow with runoff from Angola.


Photo: C Begley

Omaheke is named after the red windblown sands that cover much of eastern Namibia. In places the sands have been moulded by the wind into parallel dunes.


Photo: Google Earth and Bing images via Terraincognita, draped over Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data

The names of the Erongo Region and Erongo Mountains are derived from the Otjiherero word oshirongo, which is a large home or settlement.


Google Earth and Bing images via Terraincognita, draped over Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data

The names Hardap Region and Hardap Dam come from the Khoekhoegowab term har'dup for nipple. Just behind Hardap Dam lies Mariental and green fields irrigated with water from the dam.

A view of Namibia from space

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Namibia_from_space legend thumbnail

Namibia is often clearly visible from the air or space because its landscapes are seldom obscured by clouds, dust or haze, and thanks to its arid climate there is little dense or tall vegetation to cover the ground. In a nutshell: there is much to see. Flying over Namibia, or studying aerial photos or satellite images, is like reading a book: each scene is packed with fascinating facts, stories and imagery; each image reveals an account of formation, climate, foundation, topography, life and how the land has been used. This view of Namibia from space is a mosaic of images captured from a Landsat satellite orbiting above the earth. It clearly shows many of Namibia's major features and landscapes; some of them are labelled.