General issues: South African mandated territory 1923-1946, South African trust territory 1946-1966, South African administration 1966-1990
Country name on general issues: South West Africa, Zuid-West Afrika, Zuidwest Afrika, Suidwes Afrika, SWA
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1923-1961, 1 Rand = 100 Cent 1961-1990
Population: 442 000 in 1920, 1 339 000 in 1990
Political history South West Africa
South West Africa is located in southern Africa. In the mid 19th century the future South West Africa is populated by several Batu and Khoisan peoples. The British are the first Europeans to settle in South West Africa – first, in 1866 on the Penguin Islands off the coast of South West Africa and next, in 1874 in Walvis Bay. Both are annexed to and administered from Cape of Good Hope, to become part of South Africa in 1910. The Germans first settle in South West Africa in 1883. The Germans, in 1884, form the protectorate of German South West Africa that becomes the colony of German South West Africa in 1892.
During WWI, German South West Africa is occupied by South Africa in 1915 and in 1920 becomes a League of Nations mandated territory of South West Africa administered by South Africa. In 1946, the mandate is extended – South West Africa becoming the United Nations trust territory of South West Africa.
South Africa aims at annexing South West Africa to South Africa – an ambition that is not supported internationally. South Africa, nonetheless, administers South West Africa as a de facto province. South Africa, in South West Africa, introduces the South African regime of apartheid. As in South Africa, ‘homelands’ are introduced for the different black population groups with the goal to establish a complete social and political segregation between the black and white population groups in the country. A total of ten homelands is established in the 1970’s, out of which four gain a nominal form of self government.
In the 1960’s, international pressure against South Africa increases, and in 1966 the United Nations mandate is revoked. Within South West Africa, the black population is organized as the South West Africa Liberation Organisation – SWAPO – that starts a guerrilla war. SWAPO will, in 1973, be recognized by the United Nations as the legitimate government of South West Africa – albeit a government in exile. Finally, in 1989 a transition phase is agreed upon – under United Nations supervision. South African troops withdraw, the homelands are dissolved and general elections prepared. In 1990, South West Africa gains independence as Namibia.
Postal history South West Africa
The first stamps used in the future South West Africa are the stamps of Germany from 1888 to 1897 – these to be superseded by the issues of German South West Africa from 1897. From 1915 until 1923, the stamps of South Africa are used. Stamps for South West Africa are issued from 1923. The first issues are overprints on stamps of South Africa. Definitives are issued from 1931. As in South Africa, stamps are issued in English and Afrikaans and, thus, often collected in pairs. The stamps of South West Africa are, from 1990, superseded by those of Namibia.