General issues: German colony 1897-1919
Country name on general issues: Deutsch-Südwestafrika
Currency: 1 Mark = 100 Pfennig 1897-1906
Population: 400 000 in 1900
Political history German South West Africa
German South West Africa is located in southern Africa. In the mid 19th century German South West Africa is populated by several Khoisan and Bantu peoples. The British are the first to establish themselves in what is to become German South West Africa in 1866 – more specifically the British settle on the Penguin Islands off the coast of German South West Africa. The Penguin Islands are, from 1874, administered from Cape of Good Hope. The British next settle in Walvis Bay in 1875 – from 1884 also administered from Cape of Good Hope.
The Germans first settle in the region in 1883 in Lüderitz – a town named after Adolf von Lüderitz, the driving force behind the colonization of Southwest Africa. In 1884, the Germans proclaim the protectorate of German South West Africa – although at the time the Germans have established direct rule over only part of the country. The limited control the Germans initially have in 1885 allows the Boer – trekking from Cape of Good Hope into the African hinterland – to establish the republic of Lijdenrust in the north. As German influence is extended further north, the Lijdenrust republic is first put under German protection in 1886 and dissolved in 1887. The borders of German South West Africa are further extended by the acquisition of the Caprivi strip in 1890. The Caprivi strip was considered of strategic importance, connecting German Southwest Africa with the Zambesi river and, through that, with the Indian Ocean and German East Africa. Finally, in 1892, Germany annexes German South West Africa to become a German colony.
In 1903, the Herero and Nama peoples revolt against German rule. The revolt leads to what has been called the first genocide in modern history: 80% of the Herero and 50% of the Nama people are killed in the period from 1903 until 1907.
During WWI, German South West Africa is occupied by the Allies. The British occupy the Caprivi strip in 1914, the rest of German Southwest Africa is occupied by South Africa in 1915. In 1920, German South West Africa becomes the League of Nations mandated territory of South West Africa, administered by South Africa – a mandate that is renewed in 1946 by the United Nations. South Africa will more and more administer South West Africa as a de facto part of South Africa. After a war of liberation, South West Africa gains independence as the republic of Namibia in 1990.
Postal history German South West Africa
The first post offices in German South West Africa are opened in 1888. Initially, the stamps of Germany are used, recognized by the cancels. Stamps are issued for German South West Africa from 1897. The first issues being overprints on German stamps – the overprint reading ‘Deutsch-Südwestafrika’. Definitives are issued from 1902 – stamps of the standard design for the German colonies. Stamps will be issued for German South West Africa until 1919 – four years after the Allied occupation of German South West Africa. From 1915, the stamps of South Africa are used. These are, from 1923, superseded by issues for the mandated territory of South West Africa and, from 1990, by the issues of the republic of Namibia.