Diogo Cao, from Portugal, became the first European to set foot on Namibian soil in 1485, with Bartholomeu Dias the second; however, due to the inhospitable Namib Desert neither went too far inland.
Europe's interest in Namibia peaked amidst the so-called "Scramble for Africa" during the 19th century, and German trader Adolf Luderitz bought a portion of the region for 10,000 marks and 260 guns.
Relations between the natives and German settlers deteriorated as the new government encouraged the settlers to take land from the natives.
In 1904 the rebellion escalated into the Herero and Namaqua Wars. Under the leadership of chief Samuel Maharero, the Hereros had the upper hand, and had little problem with defending themselves due to their knowledge of the terrain.
In response, Germany sent 14,000 additional troops to subdue the situation, and at the Battle of Waterberg the Hereros were issued an ultimatum to leave the country or be killed.
What followed was the Herero and Namaqua Genocide, as Hereros escaped into the waterless Omaheke region in the Kalahari Desert where many died of thirst, and the rest were at the mercy of German forces whose orders were to shoot any male Herero on sight. An estimated 50-70% of the total Herero population, and approximately 50% of the Nama population perished.
On October 7, 2007, descendants of Lothar von Trotha, the General who led the German attacks on the Hereros and Namas, issued an apology for the actions of their ancestors.