South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), (German: Südwestafrikanische Volksorganisation, SWAVO; Afrikaans: Suidwes-Afrikaanse Volk-Organisasie, SWAVO), officially known as SWAPO Party of Namibia, is a political party and former national liberation movement in Namibia. It has been the governing party in Namibia since achieving independence in 1990. The party won 86.73% of the popular vote and 77 out of 96 seats in the general election held in November 2014.
Though the organisation rejected the term South West Africa and insisted on replacing it with Namibia, the organisation's own name—derived from the territory's old name—was already too deeply rooted to be changed. However, the original full name is no longer used and only the acronym remains.
After World War I the League of Nations gave South-West Africa, formerly a German colony, to the United Kingdom as a mandate under the title of South Africa. When the National Party won the 1948 election in South Africa and subsequently introduced apartheid legislation, these laws also extended into South-West Africa which was the de facto fifth province of South Africa.
SWAPO was founded on 19 April 1960 by Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and Sam Nujoma as the successor of the Ovamboland People's Congress, an organisation established in 1957 and renamed the Ovamboland People's Organization in 1959. The reason for the renaming was that although the organisation had its base among the Ovambo people of northern Namibia it wanted to be representative of all Namibians.
During 1962 SWAPO had emerged as the dominant nationalist organisation for the Namibian people, co-opting other groups such as the South West Africa National Union (SWANU), and in 1976 the Namibia African People's Democratic Organisation. SWAPO used guerrilla tactics to fight the South African Defence Force. On 26 August 1966 the first major clash of the conflict took place, when a unit of the South African Police, supported by the South African Air Force, exchanged fire with SWAPO forces. This date is generally regarded as the start of what became known in South Africa as the Border War. In 1972 the United Nations General Assembly recognised SWAPO as the 'sole legitimate representative' of Namibia's people. The Norwegian government began giving aid directly to SWAPO in 1974.
The country of Angola gained its independence on 11 November 1975 following its war for independence. The leftist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), supported by Cuba and the Soviet Union, came to power. The MPLA offered SWAPO bases in Angola to launch attacks against the South African military in March 1976.