Tsumeb lies in the so-called "Otavi Triangle"; the area between the towns of Tsumeb, Otavi in the south-west and Grootfontein in the south-east. All towns are some 60 kilometres apart from each other. The Otavi Triangle receives relatively high rainfalls and a lot of the land is being cultivated, mostly for maize and wheat, but also vegetables and fruit.
The "Garden Town" of Tsumeb, with its 15 000 residents, looks quite green. The prettiest time is spring when the Jacaranda trees are in bloom. An architectural jewel is the Catholic St. Barbara Church in Main Street. It was built in 1913.
Left: Tsumeb Museum. Top: St. Barbara Church in Tsumeb
Tsumeb is economically dependent on the mining industry. Earlier the bushmen found copper here, in a malachite hill, which they bartered for tobacco with the Ovambos. Around 1900, the industrial mining of copper, lead, silver, zinc and cadmium started. The ore deposits of Tsumeb - of volcanic origin - in fact, contain many more minerals, some of them rare ones. In total 217 different minerals were discovered in the Tsumeb area. Nowhere else in the world such a variety can be found. The mine went bankrupt some years ago, but in the meantime operations have been taken up again.
The museum of Tsumeb's local history informs about the wonderworld of minerals and crystals. The dedicated curator, Ilse Schatz, who founded the museum in 1975, can tell interesting stories from the colonial times of Tsumeb.