Mariental Main Street
|Motto(s): Luceat et crescat|
|Elevation||1,090 m (3,580 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (South African Standard Time)|
Mariental is a city of 10,000 inhabitants in south-central Namibia, lying on the B1 national road 232 kilometres (144 mi) north of Keetmanshoop and 274 kilometres (170 mi) southeast of Windhoek. It lies at an elevation of 1,090 metres (3,580 ft). Mariental is connected to the TransNamib railway line from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop. The town and the surrounding area are in a hot, arid region.
Named by local Rhenish (German Lutheran) missionaries, the town was founded in 1912 as a railway stop between Windhoek and Keetmanshoop and named after Maria, the wife of the first colonial settler of the area, Hermann Brandt. It was proclaimed a town in 1920 and a municipality in 1946. Mariental is home to a large number of Nama-speaking people, descendants of the early Khoi inhabitants of Namibia. The people of Mariental are known for their big smiles and hospitality.
The Hardap Dam, situated 22 kilometres (14 mi) northwest of Mariental, is the largest dam in Namibia. It supplies the city with water and controls the flow of the Fish River which flows in a southerly direction past the town. Hardap Dam has a capacity of 320 million cubic metres (420,000,000 cu yd) and a surface area of 25 km2 (2,500 ha). Construction began in 1960 and completed in 1963.
Before the dam was built, Mariental was flooded in 1923 and 1934. However, whenever dam sluices have to be opened fully due to good rains in the Fish River's catchment area, Mariental is still prone to floods, with reed grasses growing in the riverbed of Fish slowing down the flow of water and aggravating the danger.
Floods after the commissioning of the dam occurred in 1972, 1974, 1976, 2000, and 2006. Since then, the dam's water level is kept at a maximum of 70% of its capacity to prevent both an overflow and an uncontrolled outflow through fully opened sluices.
Mariental has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh), with very hot summers and extremely warm winters (with warm days and cold nights). The average annual precipitation is 194 mm (8 in).
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The nearby Hardap Dam is the largest reservoir in Namibia and provides water for irrigation, making possible to cultivate animal fodder, as well as corn, fruits and vegetables. The town is surrounded by flourishing commercial farms which, due to the low annual rainfall in the area focus on game farming as well as sheep and ostrich farming which along with cattle farming remain popular in the region. Export grapes, cotton lucern and dairy farming is also sustained by irrigation from the Hardap Dam.
A local ostrich abattoir used to cater for this increasingly important industry, but recently went bankrupt, and what survives of the karakul trade in the south is centered around Mariental. Sitting astride the main route into the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, Mariental also services the needs of farmers in these areas. Mariental also boasts some of the best safari and hunting experiences in Namibia at lodges like Lapa Lange and Anib Lodge. Available game include springbuck, blesbuck, giraffe, ostrich, leopard, zebra, kudu, gemsbuck, hartebeest, eland, blue- and black wildebeest.
The German association “Fahrräder für Afrika e.V.” (Bicycles for Africa) has built a “Bicycle Empowerment Centre” in the town together with the Catholic Aids Action (CAA) and the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) Namibia. Local people infected with the HI-virus were trained to repair and build bikes and also received the know-how to run the workshop on their own. Second-hand Bicycles are being sold at low prices to the inhabitants of the region, allowing easy travel and transportation, while the income from the workshops is also used to finance local aid projects. The project is supported by governmental agencies in Germany and Namibia.
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