Postage stamps and postal history of South West Africa

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Stamps of South Africa overprinted for use in SWA 1947. The stamps show Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and commemorated the visit of the British royal family to Africa.

Postage stamps were issued in the South African-administered colony of South West Africa from 1914 to 1989.


The South African Army overran German South-West Africa in 1914–15 and, in 1922, a League of Nations mandate gave South Africa the responsibility of administering the colony, now renamed South West Africa. South Africa controlled the postal service until Namibian independence in 1989. After World War II, the mandate was supposed to transform the colony into a United Nations Trust Territory, but South Africa objected to it coming under UN control and refused to allow the territory's transition to independence, regarding it as a fifth province.[1]

1937 1½p stamp.

South African stamps were used from 1914 until 1923. The first stamps inscribed South West Africa were issued bilingually in English and Afrikaans (Suidwest Afrika) on 1 January 1923. From 1970, the abbreviation SWA was in general use.[2] In 1989, the last stamps of South West Africa were a set of 15 depicting minerals and mining. The stamps were unusual in that only a short while after their issue the illegal Republic of South West Africa was declared independent, becoming Namibia. As the stamps were new, most of the designs were kept with only the name changed (cuprite was dropped and willemite added for the Namibian issue). Another problem was that one of the stamps, for boltwoodite, had an error in its chemical equation. This was corrected in the Namibian issue.[3] Namibia has issued regular definitive and commemorative stamps since independence in 1989, NamPost being its postal authority.

See also[edit]

During World War II, small economy stamps were used in SWA.


  1. ^ Thornberry, pp.9–11.
  2. ^ Rossiter & Flower, p.301.
  3. ^ Minerals on Stamps by Paul Glover, 14 November 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2011.


  • Stanley Gibbons Postage Stamp Catalogue – Europe and Colonies (London: Stanley Gibbons Ltd). various editions.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Rossiter, Stuart & Flower, John (1986). The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald. ISBN 0-356-10862-7. 
  • Thornberry, Cedric (2004). A Nation Is Born: The Inside Story of Namibia's Independence. Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers Ltd. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-99916-0-521-0. 

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