Where is the Caprivi Strip and why was it created?

Answered by Willian Lymon

The Caprivi Strip is a narrow panhandle that stretches about 280 miles in length, located in the northeastern corner of Namibia. It is bordered by Angola to the north and Botswana to the south, with Zambia and Zimbabwe to the east. This unique geographical feature exists due to a historical oversight by the Germans during their colonization of the region.

During the late 19th century, European powers were engaged in a race for colonies in Africa, known as the Scramble for Africa. Germany, under the leadership of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, sought to establish a presence in southern Africa. They were particularly interested in gaining access to the Zambezi River, which they believed would provide a direct route to the Indian Ocean.

At the time, the Germans were unaware of the presence of Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world, located on the Zambezi River. They mistakenly believed that the river would be navigable all the way to the coast, allowing them to establish a trade route for their colonial possessions.

In 1890, Germany negotiated the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty with the British, which defined the borders between German South-West Africa (present-day Namibia) and British territories. The treaty granted Germany a section of land in northeastern Namibia, which became known as the Caprivi Strip, named after the German Chancellor at the time, Count Georg Leo von Caprivi.

The creation of the Caprivi Strip was a strategic move by Germany to secure access to the Zambezi River and ultimately the Indian Ocean. However, their miscalculation of the river’s navigability led to the strip being largely disconnected from the rest of Namibia, with no natural land connection to the rest of the country.

The Caprivi Strip has a diverse ecosystem, characterized by lush vegetation, rivers, wetlands, and wildlife. It is home to several national parks and game reserves, including Bwabwata National Park, Mudumu National Park, and Mahango Game Reserve. These protected areas attract tourists and offer opportunities for wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and fishing.

In terms of geopolitical significance, the Caprivi Strip has historically been a disputed territory. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, control over the strip was transferred to South Africa under a League of Nations mandate. South Africa maintained control over the area until Namibia gained independence in 1990.

The Caprivi Strip in Namibia exists due to a historical oversight by the Germans, who mistakenly believed that the Zambezi River would provide them with a direct trade route to the Indian Ocean. This strategic miscalculation led to the creation of a narrow panhandle that is geographically distinct from the rest of Namibia. The Caprivi Strip is known for its rich biodiversity and has been a disputed territory throughout its history.