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The largest part of South West Africa is a plateau at an average altitude of 3500 feet above sea level.
It has a very limited humidity and rainfall and great variations of temperature.

Along the railway from Windhuk over Karibib northwards is a narrow belt that receives more rain. This belt broadened out northwards spreading as far be Outjo and Grootfontein. Owing to the want of moisture the decomposition of surface is imperfect forming a coarse sand unable to sustain any but the coarser forms of vegetation. The country is sandy where it is not rough, and the vegetation although sufficiently dense to present obstacles to deployment and movement is of no value as a source of supplies except for fuel.

To the west the plateau falls rapidly to sea level forming a coastal belt from 40 to 100 miles wide. This part is absolutely barren and waterless and for the greater part covered with sand dunes. Improved roads do not exist and the going for all arms may be classed as difficult over the whole of the country.

The railway system (see diagram No. 2) was on two different gauges, a 3ft6in gauge from Luderitz Bay over Keetmanshoop to Karibib over Windhuk and having an extension from Seeheim near Keetmanshoop to Kalkfontein. From Swakopmund,the only other part of the Colony, a 2ft6in guage went to Karibib and from there Northwards to Tsumeb and Grootfontein.

The climate is dry and healthy. The limited rainfall occurs chiefly in January and Febuary. The country has no permanent running streams anywhere near any possible line of advance, the water supply had to be derived from digging in river beds or making use of wells where they existed.

Supplies with the exception of meat, were before the war never sufficiently raised in the territory to supply its own needs.

The Union territory where it adjoins South West Africa presents similar features, forming a barren and difficult belt at least 200 miles wide which any overland advance would have to cross before reaching the South West border.

(vide diagram No. 2).


Numerical Information

Area of South West Africa 322,450 sq. miles
Population 1912 14,816 Europeans
Adult European males in 1912 9,046
Native population in 1912 80,900
Miles of broad gauge railway 800 Miles
Miles of narrow gauge railway 420 Miles
Coastal belt rainfall per year 0,4 inch
Inland belt rainfall per year 4 to 12 inch

 
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