Grootfontein was originally known as Otjivanda to the Herero people. It forms part of the Otavi Triangle, highly fertile area with high rainfall and a flourishing agricultural sector.
During the year 1885, 40 Boer families who were part of the Doersland trekkers settled in Grootfontein on their way to Angola. Their trip was cut short when the Portuguese took over the country. These families turned back and formed the Republic of Upingtonia back in Grootfontein.