The area to the south of Etosha's pan, where most tourist roads and camps are situated, was primarily the domain of the Hai||om, Khoesan-speaking people, who hunted and gathered around the pan. The land they occupied within the park’s current borders comprised over 700 000 ha (7 000 square kilometres).
The Hai||om are one of the various groups classified in Namibia as San, or “Bushmen”. In terms of education, employment, access to resources, land tenure and political representation, they are today one of the most marginalised communities in southern Africa.
The people labelled “Bushmen”, “Boesmans” or “Buschmännner” by English-, Afrikaans- and German-speaking immigrants respectively usually call themselves by the names of their individual groups, such as Ju’|hoansi, Hai||om, Khwe, !Xun, !Xoon, Naro, G|wi, G||ana or ‡Khomani.
The language which the Hai||om speak (also referred to as Hai||om) is a Central Khoesan language; as a member of the Khoekhoegowab dialect continuum, it is more closely related to Nama and Damara than to most of the other “Bushman” languages, most of which are classified as Northern or Southern Khoesan languages.