The city of Grootfontein is home to nearly 24,000 people. It is located in the Otjozondjupa Region. In Afrikaans the name of the city means great spring. It is one of three cities that make up what is known as the Otavi Triangle. The local Herero people refer to the city as Otjivanda.
Grootfontein was originally settled by 40 different Afrikaner families, who were from the north west of South Africa. Heading towards Angola, these Dorslandtrekkers became aware of the fact that the Angola territory had fallen under attack and was under Portuguese control, they decided to turn back and remain at Grootfontein.
They established what was called the Republic Upingtonia at Grootfontein. For some strange reason they decided to change the name to Lijdensrust, and signed an agreement with the German colonial administration for continued protection from the natives. After only a few short years, the relationship between the Boers and the Germans became somewhat tenuous. Hence the agreement was dissolved in 1887 and the trekkers headed off once again bound for Angola.
The settlement lay abandoned during which time the Herero and Owambo people fought with each other trying to gain control of the area, as it was prime cattle grazing land, and there were also copper ore deposits in the nearby area. However 1893 the South West Africa Company decided to take over the area and make it their headquarters.
A copper mining venture was then established between the Germans and the British which saw copper mines established and the land subdivided and sold into ranchlands. This continued throughout the late 1890's and early 1900's. During this time the Germans also saw an opportunity to establish a military base at Grootfontein, which would serve as a gateway to the Catavi Strip.
It wasn't until 1907 that Grootfontein was proclaimed a town. With its rich fertile soil and generous annual rainfall, it quickly became a centre for cattle farming. With the introduction of the rail line into the town, it took no time at all before the town became a major rail terminus for the north eastern quadrant of Namibia.
The eco commerce of Grootfontein includes timber, copper, lead, vanadium, zinc, dolomite and carbonate. Other local sources of income include meat and dairy products, leather goods, sunflowers, peanuts and sorghum.
The local tourist attractions include The Boab Tree, The Das Alte Fort Museum and The Gaub Cave.