Gobabis is a town in eastern Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

. It is the regional capital of the Omaheke Region, and the district capital of the Gobabis electoral constituency
Gobabis Constituency
Gobabis Constituency is an electoral constituency in the Omaheke Region of Namibia. It has 14,278 inhabitants, its district capital is the town of Gobabis....

. Gobabis is situated 200 km (124.3 mi) down the B6 motorway from Windhoek
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around above sea level. The 2001 census determined Windhoek's population was 233,529...

 to Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

. The town is 110 km (68.4 mi) from the Buitepos
Buitepos is a small settlement in the Omaheke Region in eastern Namibia. It is one of the border posts between Namibia and Botswana....

 border post with Botswana, and serves as an important link to South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 on the tarred Trans-Kalahari Highway. Gobabis is in the heart of the cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 farming area. In fact Gobabis is so proud of its cattle farming that a statue of a large Brahman
Brahman (cattle)
The Brahman or Brahma is a breed of Zebu cattle , later exported from India to the rest of the world. The main breeds used were Kankrej, Gujurat, Nelore or Ongole and the Gir or Gyr cattle...

 bull with the inscription "Cattle Country" greets visitors to the town. Gobabis borders the Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending , covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert...

, and is traditionally in the land of the Herero people.

Etymology and pre-colonial history

The area around Gobabis and along the Nossob River
Nossob River
The Nossob River is a dry river bed in eastern Namibia and the Kalahari region of South Africa and Botswana. It covers a distance of 740km and last flooded in 1989...

 had a strong population of elephants. The settlement itself was a base camp for ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 hunters and a trading post for elephant tusks.

In 1856 a mission station
Mission Station
Mission Station is the eastern terminus station on the West Coast Express commuter rail line connecting Vancouver to Mission, British Columbia, Canada. The station is located on the north side of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks in Mission on North Railway Avenue. The station opened in 1995,...

 was established by one Friederich Eggert of the Rhenish Missionary Society
Rhenish Missionary Society
The Rhenish Missionary Society was one of the largest missionary societies in Germany. Formed from smaller missions founded as far back as 1799, the Society was amalgamated on 23 September 1828, and its first missionaries were ordained and sent off to South Africa by the end of the year.The...

. In the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century several conflicts flared up between the Mbanderu and the Khauas Khoikhoi, as well as between the settlers and the indigenous people. Gobabis is in an area where the Herero and the Nama
Nama are an African ethnic group of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. They traditionally speak the Nama language of the Khoe-Kwadi language family, although many Nama now speak Afrikaans. The Nama are the largest group of the Khoikhoi people, most of whom have largely disappeared as a group,...

 people fought wars against one another, as well as with settlers from the Cape colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

 that occupied the land.

According to oral tradition, the earliest name for the settlement in this area was the Khoekhoegowab word ǂkhoandabes, the place where the elephant came to lick. This reason for this name is speculated to be that elephant tusks that would crack in the dry and hot climate of the Omaheke were at times stored right in the settlement's well. The Herero called the place Epako.

Later the settlement was referred to as "Gobabis" by the Whites, this expression was likely derived from goba (argue, quarrel) and bis (place): The place where people quarreled. A common earlier interpretation of the name, ǂkhoa (Elephant) -bes (place), Elephant fountain, was introduced by Heinrich Vedder
Heinrich Vedder
Hermann Heinrich Vedder was a German missionary, linguist, ethnologist and historian. Originally a silk weaver, he received missionary training in Barmen between 1894 and 1903, whereafter he was sent to German South-West Africa...

 and gained wide acceptance. Vedder also opined that it was Amraal Lambert
Amraal Lambert
Amraal Lambert, Nama name: ǂGaiǀnub, was the first Captain of the Kaiǀkhauan , a subtribe of the Orlam, in the eastern area of Namaland, today's Namibia....

, Captain
Tribal chief
A tribal chief is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom. Tribal societies with social stratification under a single leader emerged in the Neolithic period out of earlier tribal structures with little stratification, and they remained prevalent throughout the Iron Age.In the case of ...

 of the Kaiǀkhauan (Khauas Nama) who called the place Gobabis because he could not pronounce ǂKoabes. Apart from linguistic problems, this interpretation was contradicted by an 1845 letter by Reverend Joseph Tindall, a Wesleyan missionary, which states: "Reached Gobabis which I named 'Elephant's fountain'" - a place name like "Place of Altercation" would not bode too well for the missionary station he intended to establish.


The Gobabis district was proclaimed by the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 authorities in February 1894 and in June the following year Gobabis was occupied by a German garrison. While the military fort, built in 1896-7, has long since disappeared, one of the few buildings dating back to that era is the field hospital
Field hospital
A field hospital is a large mobile medical unit that temporarily takes care of casualties on-site before they can be safely transported to more permanent hospital facilities...

, or Lazarette, which has been declared a national monument.


Gobabis has a semi-arid climate (BSh, according to the Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

), with hot summers and cool winters (with mild days and chilly nights). The average annual precipitation is 375 mm (15 in).


Gobabis continues to grow as a town due to goods crossing from the mines of landlocked Botswana to the Namibian port of Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay , is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies...

, and furthermore from consumer goods being imported into Namibia from Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 in South Africa. Gobabis is connected to the Namibian railway
TransNamib is the railway parastatal of Namibia. Organised as a holding company, it provides freight by rail and road as well as passenger services. Its administration is located in Windhoek.-History:...

 system. The passenger train that used to run to the capital Windhoek four times a week no longer takes passengers. The town hosts two hospitals, a clinic, banking and shopping facilities. Legare Stadium is located in the town.

Notable landmarks

The most notable landmark upon entering Gobabis from Windhoek
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around above sea level. The 2001 census determined Windhoek's population was 233,529...

is the Cattle Country Statue.
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