Physically, the south is a semi-arid region of vast plains stretching as far as the eye can see. To the west lie a series of mountain ranges demarcating the edge of the plateau and the Namib Desert. Just north of Keetmanshoop stands the ancient mountain of Brukkaros, towering 650 m above the surrounding plain, and in the moonscape of the far south lies the Fish River Canyon, an artery through which the Fish River flows down to its confluence with the Orange River.
The economy of the south has always been based around livestock farming. In pre- colonial times the Nama people grazed their animals on the vast plains, watering them at the springs of Rehoboth, Hoachanas, Gibeon, Berseba and Bethanie, now all small settlements. Following the arrival of European missionaries, traders and settlers, the majority of the land was turned into vast white-owned ranches, many of over 10,000 ha, and for much of the 20th century the wealth of these farmers was built on the back of the trade in the wool of the karakul sheep . Although the Basters in Rehoboth managed to hold on to their land, following the Odendaal Commission Report in 1962, the Nama people were forced into a Namaland Bantustan located west of the main road between Mariental and Keetmanshoop.
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