* LAND: About twice the size of California, Namibia is mostly desert except for the interior plateau and the northern border area.

* PEOPLE: The population, estimated in 1982 at 1.04 million, is composed of Ovambo, Herero, Nama, Damara and Bushman tribal groups. Whites make up about 7.4 percent of the population. Many Africans have been converted to Christianity, but some practice animist beliefs. The official languages are Afrikaans and English; German is widely used.

* ECONOMY: Natural resources include diamonds, copper, lead, zinc, tin and uranium. Namibia exports diamonds, fish products, pelts and cattle and imports textiles, food, fuel and construction equipment.

* HISTORY: South-West Africa was made a German protectorate in 1884. South Africa occupied the territory during World War I and administered it under a League of Nations mandate beginning in 1920. The name Namibia was given to the territory by the United Nations. In 1966, the General Assembly terminated the League of Nations mandate and in the following year created an 11-nation council to administer the territory until independence. South Africa refused to accept U.N. authority in the area, and the Security Council condemned South Africa for exercising illegal control of the area.

In 1977, white voters supported a referendum calling for a multiracial interim government to lead the territory to independence. The South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) rejected the plan and launched a guerrilla war. SWAPO and South Africa agreed in principle in 1982 to a cease-fire and U.N.-supervised elections, but South Africa has insisted on withdrawal of Cuban troops from neighboring Angola as a condition for Namibian independence.