Keetmanshoop

The capital of southern Namibia

The German industrialist Johan Keetman gave the town Keetmanshoop its name (Hoop is derived from Afrikaans and means “hope”). In 1866 the place was founded as a missionary station and Keetman, who supported the mission financially, was hoping that through the evangelisation the hostile tribes of the then called Namaland would be pacified. Keetman never visited the town that was named after him. However, the original population of the town by a Nama tribe reaches back to the end of the 18th century.

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The modern town Keetmanshoop lies approx. 500 km south of the capital Windhoek and has about 22000 inhabitants, including the suburb Kroenlein. The town lies in the centre of southern Namibia and at the western outskirts of the Kalahari Basin. Today it is the most important hub regarding road and rail traffic in southern Namibia.

Already during the formative years of Keetmanshoop it was an important trade station. The national road B1 developed out of the former trading routes. The existing railway line from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop was extended to Lüderitz in 1908, which gave Keetmanshoop access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Apart from Karakul breeding tourism is one of the most important economic sectors. Due to its geological and climatic conditions an agricultural utilization of the region is hardly possible. With an average rainfall of 100 – 200 ml annually and some years without any precipitation the water supply is granted by the nearby Naute Dam.

One of the main tourist attractions in the area are the quiver tree forests. The quiver trees are mostly found on private farms and can be visited. The name derives from the utilisation of the trees’ branches by the San to make quivers for their arrows.

Thirteen kilometres north east of Keetmanshoop on the farm Gariganus we find one of the most famous quiver tree forests, which has been declared a National Monument.

 

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