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Namibia is populated by few people, but those few constitute an unusually diverse set of peoples and cultures. The country's predominant (85%) black population is composed of several different ethnic groups, including the San, the Khoi-Khoi, the Herero, and the Ovambo. The small European population is composed of Germans and Afrikaners, and there is also a significant Asian minority. The great majority of Namibia's 1.5 million people live in the north, where the climate is less arid and generally more hospitable.

: The history of habitation in Namibia begins with the San, who lived there at least two thousand years ago. As a nation, however, Namibia is relatively young, having gained its independence after prolonged struggles only in March of 1990. The country was largely spared the attentions of the European powers until the end of the nineteenth century, when it came under the control of Germany. In 1920 the territory was awarded by the League of Nations to South Africa, which resisted Namibian independence for decades as a result of the area's enormous mineral wealth. Although the UN voted to end South African control in 1966, widespread regional warfare prevented the establishment of an independent government for almost two decades.