sperrgebiet, noun

Forms:
Also sperregebiet, and (frequently) with initial capital.
Origin:
GermanShow more German, forbidden territory, from sperren to close, bar + Gebiet area, territory.
The area of the Namibian coast between Lüderitz and the Orange River, where diamonds were found in 1908 and to which the German Government (and subsequently the South African authorities) allowed only restricted access. Also attributive.
1926 M. Nathan S. Afr. from Within 46In April 1908, diamonds were discovered in the desert sand near Lüderitzbucht...The German Government ordered the closing of the area which had not been pegged off by companies. This area, known as Sperrgebiet, and believed to be of great value, was also closed to prospecting by the succeeding British Administration. The sperrgebiet extends from Lüderitzbucht to the Orange river.
1936 L.G. Green Secret Afr. 99The guards were withdrawn from the diamond-fields of Luderitzbucht when the Germans retreated inland, and one foreigner slipped into the ‘Sperrgebiet,’ collected a parcel worth £80,000, and escaped with it.
1945 L.G. Green Where Men Still Dream 159Dramatic discoveries are sometimes made in the Namib Desert and the forbidden ‘Sperrgebiet’—or coastal diamond areas near Luderitzbucht.
1957 C. Birkby Airman Lost in Afr. 55Two men..had found an immensely rich pocket of diamonds in the sperrgebiet.
1967 E. Rosenthal Encycl. of Sn Afr. 527Sperrgebiet, Zone in South West Africa, mainly along the coast, access to which was prohibited without special permission, owing to its wealth in diamonds. The Sperrgebiet was established during the German régime, and has been maintained since then by the South African Government.
1968 G. Croudace Black Rose 67The whole coastline south to the Orange River mouth to be sperregebiet — forbidden territory.
1971 Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. IV. 25The ‘Sperrgebiet’ was proclaimed in Sept. 1908, when the Imperial government in Berlin gave sole right to prospect and recover diamonds in the area to the Deutsche Diamanten Gesellschaft.
1978 E.L. Williams in Optima Vol.27 No.4, 86When it became apparent that this harsh, inhospitable place held diamonds it was named the Sperrgebiet, the forbidden region, and sealed off by the German colonial administration of the time, thus adding a man-made sense of secrecy to its natural isolation.
1985 S. Afr. Panorama Nov. 45Alexander was privileged to be allowed access to the Sperrgebiet by the De Beers Diamond Mining Company in the early 1980s. The area has been prohibited for all but a few mining personnel since the Sperrgebiet Decree of 1909.
1993 G. Williamson in Afr. Wildlife Vol.47 No.2, 52The Sperrgebiet lies in the south-western corner of Namibia, comprising the southernmost portion of the great Namib Desert. It is about 220 kilometres long, roughly rectangular in shape, and wedged between the rugged Atlantic coast and the base of the high inland escarpment.
The area of the Namibian coast between Lüderitz and the Orange River, where diamonds were found in 1908 and to which the German Government (and subsequently the South African authorities) allowed only restricted access. Also attributive.

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19261993