The nomadic San people were the only inhabitants of Namibia until around 2,000 years ago, then, over the centuries many ethnic groups began to settle the land.
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.