Windhoek (pronounced /vindhoek/, sometimes in German: Windhuk) is the capital and largest city of the
Republic of Namibia. It is located in the central Khomas Region, and had a population of 233,529 in the 2001 census but is now believed to be over 296,000 in 2008.
The city is a major trading centre for sheep skin. It sits on a sloping plain on the northern side of the Khomas Hochland (Khomas Highlands) at an altitude of 1,665 metres (5,460 ft).
Windhoek is situated in a semi-desert climatic region. Days are mostly warm with very hot days during the summer months, while nights are generally cool. The average annual temperature is 19.47 °C (67.05 °F), which is high for a site at such a high altitude on the edge of the tropics. This is mainly due to the prevalence of a warm northerly airflow and the mountains to the south, which shelter the city from cold southerly winds.
The winter months of June, July and August usually experience very little rain. Minimum temperatures range
between 5°C (41°F) to 18°C (64°F). Nights are usually cool, although the temperature seldom drops below 0°C, and it almost never snows. Days are usually hot to very hot, varying from a maximum of 20 °C (68 °F) in July to 31 °C (88 °F) in January.
Mean annual rainfall is around 360 millimetres (14 in), which is too low to support crops or gardens without heavy use of watering. The natural vegetation of the area is scrub and steppe. Droughts are a regular occurrence; dry and wet years run through a cycle that lasts around 10 years.
The city of Windhoek is traditionally known by two names: Ai-Gams, from the Nama people, which literally refers to the hot springs that were once part of Windhoek, while the second name, Otjomuise, meaning a place of team, was given by the Herero people. Both traditional names reference the hot springs.
The early settlements of Windhoek came about because of the water from the hot springs. In the mid-1800s
Captain Jan Jonker Afrikaner settled near one of the main hot springs, located in the present-day Klein-Windhoek, an upper-class suburb of Windhoek.