The word vlei (pronounced "flay") is used predominantly in South Africa. It is an Afrikaans word derived from Dutch "vallei" (valley). In Afrikaans, however, its meaning changed into "shallow minor lake", mostly of a seasonal or intermittent nature. It even might refer to seasonal ponds or marshy patches where frogs and similar marsh dwellers breed. Commonly, vleis vary in their extent, or even in the presence or absence of water, according to the fall of rain or dryness of the season. In terms of water salinity, vleis may be freshwater, saltwater, or brackish. Over time a vlei may degrade into a salt pan or clay pan, such as Dead Vlei.
Vleis of various types can be of considerable local ecological importance, harboring many endemic and migratory species. Most vleis are too minor to be granted recognition in the form of a name. However, some major vleis are accorded names, for example Rondevlei and Zeekoevlei in the Cape Peninsula, which are permanent bodies of water. Indeed, Rondevlei is home to hippopotamus. The term is the basis of various biological common names such as "vlei rat" for rodents in the genus Otomys, "vleiroos" (literally "marsh rose"), vleikuiken" (literally "vlei chick") and vlei frog.
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia (Afrikaans: Republiek van Namibië, German: Republik Namibia (help·info)), is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border with Zimbabwe, less than 200 meters of riverbed (essentially the Zambia/Botswana border) separates them at their closest points. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen, Damara, and Namaqua, and since about the 14th century AD by immigrating Bantu who came with the Bantu expansion. It became a German Imperial protectorate in 1884 and remained a German colony until the end of World War I. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated the country to South Africa, which imposed its laws and, from 1948, its apartheid policy.