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Portuguese settlers originally founded Namibe as Mocamedes in 1840. After Angola's independence in 1975, most of them fled in their fishing boats. The port city of Namibe used to be Angola's major beach resort, but nowadays large parts of the city are in ruins. The remote province of Namibe was far from the areas where fighting was going on during Angola's civil war, but the region was still heavily damaged economically as a result of the conflict.

Tap-water is undrinkable in Namibe. The city is 720 km south from Luanda.

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