Tsumeb has approximately 15,000 inhabitants and is the largest town in the Oshikoto region in northern Namibia. Tsumeb is considered the “gateway to the north” of Namibia and is the closest town to the Etosha National Park, which is the largest game reserve in the world and one of the greatest wildlife viewing parks in Africa, situated only 100km north-west of Tsumeb.
The park spans an area of 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 sq mi) and gets its name from the large Etosha pan which is almost entirely within the park. The Name “Etosha” means: “Land of Dry Water” and the pan itself (4,760 square kilometres (1,840 sq mi) covers 23% of the total area of the Etosha National Park. The park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhinoceros.
Tsumeb is primarily a mining town. The mine was originally owned by the OMEG (Otavi Minen- und Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft) and later by TCL (Tsumeb Corporation Limited) before its closure a few years ago, when the ore at depth ran out. The mine has since been opened up again by a group of local entrepreneurs (“Ongopolo Mining”). A fair amount of oxidized ore remains to be recovered in the old upper levels of the mine. It is highly unlikely, though, that the deepest levels will ever be reopened. The other notable feature of the town is the metal smelter, currently owned by Namibia Custom Smelters. The Annual Copper Festival is a well-known event on the local festival calendar.