The largest part of South West Africa is a plateau at an average altitude of 3500 feet above sea level. It has a very limited humidity and rainfall and great variations of temperature.
the railway from Windhuk over Karibib northwards is a narrow belt that
receives more rain. This belt broadened out northwards spreading as far
be Outjo and Grootfontein. Owing to the want of moisture the
decomposition of surface is imperfect forming a coarse sand unable to
sustain any but the coarser forms of vegetation. The country is sandy
where it is not rough, and the vegetation although sufficiently dense
to present obstacles to deployment and movement is of no value as a
source of supplies except for fuel.
To the west the plateau
falls rapidly to sea level forming a coastal belt from 40 to 100 miles
wide. This part is absolutely barren and waterless and for the greater
part covered with sand dunes. Improved roads do not exist and the going
for all arms may be classed as difficult over the whole of the country.
railway system (see diagram No. 2) was on two different gauges, a
3ft6in gauge from Luderitz Bay over Keetmanshoop to Karibib over
Windhuk and having an extension from Seeheim near Keetmanshoop to
Kalkfontein. From Swakopmund,the only other part of the Colony, a
2ft6in guage went to Karibib and from there Northwards to Tsumeb and
The climate is dry and healthy. The limited
rainfall occurs chiefly in January and Febuary. The country has no
permanent running streams anywhere near any possible line of advance,
the water supply had to be derived from digging in river beds or making
use of wells where they existed.
Supplies with the exception of meat, were before the war never sufficiently raised in the territory to supply its own needs.
Union territory where it adjoins South West Africa presents similar
features, forming a barren and difficult belt at least 200 miles wide
which any overland advance would have to cross before reaching the
South West border.
(vide diagram No. 2).
Area of South West Africa 322,450 sq. miles Population 1912 14,816 Europeans Adult European males in 1912 9,046 Native population in 1912 80,900 Miles of broad gauge railway 800 Miles Miles of narrow gauge railway 420 Miles Coastal belt rainfall per year 0,4 inch Inland belt rainfall per year 4 to 12 inch