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Windhoek (vĭntˈhōk) [key], city (1991 pop. 147,056), capital of Namibia. It is Namibia's largest city and its administrative, communications, and economic center. Windhoek is one of the world's major trade centers for Karakul sheep skins. Clothing is manufactured, meat and bone meal are processed, and diamonds are cut and polished in the city. A transportation hub, Windhoek is linked with the Republic of South Africa's railroad network. Windhoek was originally the headquarters of a Nama chief, who defeated the Herero inhabitants of the region in the 19th cent. After the occupation of the territory by German forces in 1885, it became the seat of administration and was later (1892) made the capital of the German colony of South West Africa. During World War I, Windhoek was captured by South African troops. Today the city retains a German flavor, and many of its residents are of German background. Windhoek stands 5,428 ft (1,654 m) above sea level and is surrounded by hills, three of which have castles built in German medieval style.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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