Strandloper peoples

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The Strandlopers are a Khoikhoi-derived people who live by hunting and gathering food along the beaches of south-western Africa, originally from the Cape Colony to the Skeleton Coast.

Most Strandloper communities did not persist in the face of demographic and economic changes occurring in southern and south-western Africa during the 19th and 20th centuries, and disappeared through assimilation.[1] The only tribe still distinguishable from their assimilating neighborhood are the Topnaar of the southern Namib who in 2005 consisted of around 500 members, distributed over 12 small settlements along Kuiseb River in central Namibia.[2] Although the other communities have disappeared, archaeological evidence of their existence remains in the form of middens containing seashells, pottery and the bones of whales and seals, as well as ash and charcoal.[1]


The name is Afrikaans and Dutch for “beach walker”.[3] The term has been extended by archaeologists to refer to coastal communities with subsistence economies based on beachcombing and a marine diet.[4] The term was also borrowed during South Africa's apartheid era by some white South Africans, as a gesture of rejection of the government's racial policies through self-identification with the native inhabitants of the country, and subsequently by those attracted by the beaches and beach lifestyle.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sydow, W. (1973). "Contributions to the history and protohistory of the Topnaar Strandloper settlement at the Kuiseb River Mouth near Walvis Bay". South African Archaeological Bulletin. 28 (111/112): 73–77. JSTOR 3888563.
  2. ^ "Los Topnaar. El Pueblo Topnaar(ǂAONIN) en el valle bajo del Río Kuiseb" [The Topnaar. The tribe of the Topnaar (ǂAonin) and their villages in Kuiseb River] (in Spanish). The Topnaar Community Foundation. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Strandloper". The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  4. ^ "Strandloper". Archaeology Dictionary. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  5. ^ "What is a Strandloper?". Geocities. 2003. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-07-10.