Postage stamps and postal history of South West Africa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 1990. 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.

Stamps issued by the Union of South Africa were used from 1914 until 1923. The first stamps inscribed "South West Africa" were issued bilingually in English and Afrikaans (Suidwes Afrika) on 1 January 1923. From 1970, the abbreviation "SWA" was in general use.[2] However, some postmarks featured German as well as Afrikaans and English.[3]

In 1973, South West Africa became part of the South African post code system, using the number range 9000-9299.[4] This was withdrawn from use after the territory gained independence as Namibia in 1990.[5] In addition, Afrikaans was removed from postmarks, which, following independence, were in English only.[6]

In 1989, the last stamps of South West Africa were a set of 15 depicting minerals and mining. Following independence, most of the designs were kept with only the name changed (cuprite was dropped and willemite added for the Namibian issue) and the removal of Afrikaans names.[7]

Another problem was that one of the stamps, for boltwoodite, had an error in its chemical equation. This was corrected in the Namibian issue.[7] Namibia has issued regular definitive and commemorative stamps since independence in 1990, NamPost being its postal authority.

See also[edit]

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



  • 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. 

External links[edit]