The first Finns arrived in Namibia, which at the time was called South-West Africa, as missionaries in 1870s. Their mission work was first established in the Northern Namibia, in former Owamboland, where for example the Olukonda church, located nearby the town of Ondangwa, still carries the memory of Martti Rautanen (1845-1926) who established it. Rautanen’s house has been transformed into a Nakambale museum in which the history of both the local people and Finnish missionaries is preserved.
The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission has had missionaries in Namibia since 1800. Over the years, Finnish people have also worked in several Development Cooperation Projects in Namibia. However, as the bilateral cooperation between Finland and Namibia has come to an end, the number of Finns has gradually decreased and the focus of development efforts has changed to capacity building of local people, local ownership, recruitment of local expertise and especially trade promotion between the two countries.
At the moment there are about 50 Finns living in Namibia. Most of them live in the capital area, in Windhoek. The number of Finns in Namibia varies from time to time depending on e.g. exchange programs between institutions and government entities. About 1000 tourists from Finland visit Namibia yearly.