Swakopmund: View from the South with the Hotel Bismarck and the Rudolph Herzog Company Building in the Foreground (c. 1905), and Swakopmund: Gardens with the Wörmann Trading Company Building and the Hansa Hotel in the Background (c. 1908)
Founded in 1892, Swakopmund was the main harbor and second largest town (after Windhoek) in German Southwest Africa, the former German colony known today as Namibia. The city's location was less than ideal in that the coastline offered no natural protection and the navigable waters proved shallow. (Unfortunately for the Germans, the natural deep-water harbor of Walvis Bay, which lay just south of Swakopmund, had been occupied by the British in 1840 already, in order to secure safe passage for British ships sailing around the Cape of Good Hope.) German settlers and soldiers had to compensate for these natural shortcomings by constructing jetties, first out of wood, then out of iron. In 1902, a railway connecting Swakopmund to Windhoek was completed.
The German colonial era was short-lived. German Southwest Africa fell into the hands of South Africa at the beginning of the First World War. The colonies were also economically insignificant, producing only 0.1% of German imports and receiving only 0.1% of all German exports. Today, Swakopmund is known as an attractive Namibian vacation destination. Original examples of German colonial era architecture are among its most popular tourist attractions. The old German train station, for example, is now a hotel and casino.