The Caprivi strip


Caprivi, sometimes called the Caprivi Strip (in German: Caprivizipfel), Caprivi Panhandle or the Okavango Strip and formally known as Itenge, is a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards about 450 km (280 miles), between Botswana on the south, Angola and Zambia to the north, and Okavango Region to the west.   Caprivi is bordered by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. Its largest settlement is the town of Katima Mulilo.   It went through a civil war from 1994-1999 and remains unstable till today.  The strip is administratively divided between the eastern Caprivi Region and the western Okavango Region.

Channel of the Chobe River between Namibia and Botswana.

The people of the Caprivi strip to rule themselves?
Caprivi strook soek onafhanklikheid



Caprivi was named after Leo von Caprivi a German Chancellor, who negotiated the land with the United Kingdom in the 1890 exchange for Zanzibar.   Von Caprivi coiffured for Caprivi to be affixed to German South-West Africa in order to allow Germany access to the mighty Zambezi River, the route to Africa’s East Coast, where the German colony Tanganyika was based.    This annexation between Germany and the UK was a part of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, in which Germany ceased interest in Zanzibar for the possession of the Caprivi Strip and the North Sea island of Heligoland.

The Caprivi Strip played a strategic military importance. 1965-1994 the African National Congress operations against the South African apartheid government. 1970-1979 saw the Rhodesian Bush war and the AngolanCivil War. The Caprivi Strip bared witness to continual military activity and multiple attacks on enemy territory by diverse armed forces using the Strip as an ideal corridor to access other territories.The Caprivi Strip also drew attention as Botswana and Namibia had a longstanding dispute over the strip’s southern boundary at the International Court of Justice. The centre of the territorial dispute pertained which irrigation channel of the Chobe River was the thalweg, the bona fide boundary.

The Botswana government considered it an inbuilt part of the Chobe National Park, whereas the Namibian government, and other inhabitants of the Caprivi Strip on the eastern end, retained that not only was the island a part of the old German-British agreement, but that generations of inhabitants had habituated it for seasonal grazing, reed gathering and even as a burial site. In December 1999, the International Court of Justice declared that the main channel, and therefore the international boundary, set to the north of the island, hence making the island part of Botswana.

Georg Leo von Caprivi

  • 1831 February 24:  Georg Leo von Caprivi is born as son of the Prussian Privy Councilor Leopold von Caprivi and his wife Emilie (née Köpke) in Charlottenburg near Berlin.

Leo von Caprivi, German military and politician. From 1883 the head of the Admiralty; 1890 Chancellor of Bismarck. He did not renew the reinsurance treaty of 1887 with Russia, but sought rapprochement with Austria and the United Kingdom. Ended in 1890 agreement with Britain on German renunciation of Zanzibar and other areas of East Africa against getting Helgoland. Domestically, he supported the Liberal Intermediaries and in 1891 ran through a new Labor Protection Act. But when he refused to renew the exemption laws against the Social Democrats in 1894, he had to leave.


Has a Slovene ever served as German chancellor? The answer is “kind of.”    The chancellor who came after Bismarck was Leo von Caprivi. He served as chancellor from 1890 to 1894 and although he was born in Berlin, his family was from Slovenia.

  • Leo von Caprivi was the German politician who succeeded Otto von Bismarck as chancellor in 1890. His administration warmed toward Great Britain, and a few months later he signed an agreement trading the islands of Zanzibar to the British in exchange for Heligoland, an archipelago just northwest of Hamburg. Bundled in the deal to Germany came a bonus, this little strip of Bechuanaland, no wider than 20 miles across in some places.
  • Why did Germany want this random stretch of British Africa? Because it ended at the Zambezi River, which would provide, the Germans thought, a route to the Indian Ocean and Germany’s East African territories (modern-day Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi).
  • The German negotiators should have checked a map. In fact, the Zambezi River is difficult to navigate along the Caprivi Strip due to rapids. Then, 40 miles east of Caprivi, it becomes extremelynon-navigable due to a 355-foot drop: Victoria Falls, by some reckonings the world’s largest waterfall. Oops. No one’s getting to the Indian Ocean that way.
  • So the Caprivi Strip turned out to be useless for trade, and mineral-poor to boot. Caprivi’s political rival Bismarck huffed that the Heligoland trade had been a bust, and that Germany had traded away its entire “trousers for a button.” Due to the strip’s odd shape, it’s been culturally isolated from the rest of the region ever since. In 1976, when South Africa controlled it, they tried to make it a segregated “bantustan” for blacks, with its own flag and national anthem. As recently as the 1990s, civil war raged there as a local rebel group, the Caprivi Liberation Army, tried to secede from Namibia. Count von Caprivi died in 1899, but the problems caused by his accidental strip live on.


In fact, his original family name was KOPRIVA, the Slovenian word for “Nettles.” They lived in the town of Koprivnik, near Kočevje, in southeastern Slovenia. Although his term was short, von Caprivi set out to reconcile with the UK and for free trade. Pressure from conservatives forced him out, and soon after Germany started a more aggressive course that ended in World War I.

Image result for KOPRIVA slovenia


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