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Last updated on Wednesday 15 November 2011

Perceptions about what geographical area is covered by the term Namaqualand differs widely amongst South Africans. For many the land area is associated with the flower season, and to them Namaqualand IS flower country and vice versa. On this page we will have a look at the different "Namaqualands". The good news is that Springbok falls within all of them ..... !

Now, in 2011, the term Namaqualand in Governmental terms denotes a land area stretching from Fraserburg in its South Eastern corner to Alexander Bay in its North Western corner. Sutherland is the Southernmost point and Sendelingsdrift the furthest North. This area forms the Namaqua District Municipality, as one of the five municipal subdivisions of the Northern Cape Province. This area now also covers what was previously known as the Hantam Karoo and the Karoo Hoogland which included Brandvlei, Calvinia, Loxton, Frazerburg and Sutherland. Nobody in earlier years would have perceived these 2 former districts as being part of the "Flower rich Namaqualand", because, for one, they are lying above the big escarpment that follows the coastline around 
Southern Africa. Neither was the North Western part of the current Namaqua District stretching from Springbok in a North Westerley direction through the Richtersveld perceived as being "Namaqualand".

Wikipedia EncyclopediaAn excellent overview of the governmental municipality subdivisions can be found in the Wikipedia  Encyclopedia 

Namaqua District Municipality Map

It might come as a shock to many that the following towns traditionally perceived as the "real" Namaqualand does not fall in Namaqualand anymore at all, but is part of the West Coast District Municipality: Doringbaai, Ebenhaeser, Klawer, Koekenaap, Lutzville, Strandfontein, Vanrhynsdorp, Vredendal, Citrusdal, Clanwilliam, Elands Bay, Graafwater and Lamberts Bay. These are in fact within the flower area still being referred to by many as "Namaqualand".

A further interesting viewpoint is that the real Namaqualand is actually split in two by the Orange river as the border between South Africa and Namibia, and that the "greater" Namaqualand falls within Namibia and the smaller portion of it in South Africa. I was being told in Sanddrift that the Nama dialect in the South of Namibia is much purer than the Nama language which is still being spoken in the Richtersveld.



Nama hut completed

The following is an extract from an article by Berit Kostka, as it appears on the stripedmouse website:

"But where in South Africa is Namaqualand situated? It lies in the west of South Africa and is part of southern Africa’s Karoo-Namib region, which can be divided into three subregions: The Namib Desert, the Nama-Karoo and the Succulent Karoo. The latter reaches from Klawer and Loeriesfontein in the south via the vicinity of Springbok and Steinkopf in the east all the way into Namibia to the coast just north of Lüderitz. There are five geographic regions in Namaqualand, according to the distinctive landscape and climate of each one. From the south to the north these are the Knersvlakte with its broad flat plains, the central Hardeveld comprising granite hills, the vast sandy expanse of the Sandveld along the coast, the high mountains of the Kamiesberg region and, in the north-west, the Richtersveld with its mountain deserts and arid plains. The succulent karoo of Namaqualand is a winter-rainfall desert which is unusual among the other deserts of the world."

Click on the picture below to read the full article

The Striped Mouse website link


As confused as I am now about Namaqualand, I should probably end this article right here. However, it seems logical to look at the meaning of the word Namaqualand, to try and arrive at a geographical location for the term Namaqualand. The quotes to the right once again comes from Wikipedia, which has very valid references at the bottom of their article.


Nama hut construction

"Nama (in older sources also called Namaqua) are an African ethnic group of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. They traditionally speak the Nama language of the Khoe-Kwadi (Central Khoisan) language family. The Nama are the largest group of the Khoikhoi people, most of whom have largely disappeared as a group, except for the Namas. Many of the Nama clans live in Central Namibia and the other smaller groups lives in Namaqualand, which today straddles the Namibian border with South Africa."

And now for the crux of the matter:

"Their alternative historical name, "Namaqua", simply stems from the addition of the Khoekhoe language suffix "-qua/khwa", meaning "people" (found in the names of other Southern African nations like the Griqua)"


That is it then - Namaqualand is the land where the Nama people lives, or used to live to a larger extent, in the perception of the person having coined the term Namaqualand. This perception has shifted over the years to include not only the West Coast of South Africa, but also parts of the Upper and Great Karoo. Technically Namaqualand extends into Namibia and even Botswana. Namaqualand and Flower Country are not synonyms. Flowers are but a small, although significant feature of the allure of Namaqualand.


Namaqualand Map



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