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Botswana Facts

An African success story, Botswana is one of the world's largest producers of diamond, and has some of the most notable safari destinations in Africa

Botswana, much like Zimbabwe is a land-locked country situated in the south-west portion of Africa. The most notable feature of Botswana is its landscape which is mostly flat, it is covered for the most part by the Kalahari Desert. Desert sand, salt pans, salt marshes and rocky outcrops form Botswana's variable landscape which caters to a diverse collection of plant and animal species.

The people of Botswana, though they may be few, belong to 20 different ethnic groups. They do speak various languages, and although the country's official language is English, the lingua franca is Setswana (or Tswana).

Botswana's history is an inspirational story of how one of the poorest countries in the world rose from the ashes in post-colonial times and built a government and infrastructure from scratch, and also became one of the world's largest diamond producers.

Botswana Facts on Location and Geography

Botswana is one of Africa's landlocked countries, located in the south-west part of the continent. It is surrounded by four countries - Namibia to the west and north, South Africa to the south, Zimbabwe to the east, and shares a tiny section of its borders (about 156 metres or 171 yards) with Zambia in the northeast.

The nation of Botswana covers 581 730 square kilometres (224 610 square miles) - an area larger than California, but smaller than Texas; larger than France but smaller than Ukraine. It is the 48th largest country in the world, area-wise. Read more about the Geography of Botswana...

Botswana's location on the African map

Botswana is in southern Africa

Time Zone

The local time in Botswana is +2 GMT or UCT+2 Central African Time. This is the same time zone as South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Botswana's Population

Botswana's population at the end of the 2011 census was 2,024,904, but is estimated to be about 2.176 million (2015 estimation). Most of the people are concentrated in the eastern part of the country, where the capital city and other major centres are located.

Capital City of Botswana

The capital city of Botswana is Gaborone, located in the south-eastern region just 15kms from the border with South Africa. It covers an area of 169 square kilometres (65.25 square miles).

More than 10% of the population of Botswana lives in Gaborone, and almost 50% of the country lives within 100 kilometres of the city.

Botswana's History

Bechuanaland Protectorate Seal

Bechuanaland Seal (Wikipedia)
Click on image to enlarge

About 7000 years ago, the Bantu people from central Africa started their migration and filtered south, east and west with their livestock, skills in building construction, agriculture, pottery skills and the knowledge of creating iron implements. Eventually, they crossed the Zambezi River and some settled in Botswana, which now has about 20 different languages.

During the late 1800's, tensions between the people of Botswana and the Ndebele encroaching from the Kalahari, and then later the Boer settlers from the Transvaal region (in South Africa), forced the Batswana leaders (including the current president Ian Khama's great grandfather - King Khama III) to seek assistance and protection from the British Government. Read more on Botswana's history...

The People of Botswana

The people of Botswana are called Batswana (singular - Motswana). Batswana are a mesh of many different tribes, the main ones being the Tswana (79%), Kalanga (11%) and Basarwa (3% - these are the bushmen). Others include Bayei, Ovaherero (Herero), Basubiya, Hanbukushu, Bakgalagadi (Kgalakgadi). There are also a small number of Indians and Caucasians who make up about 4% of the population.

San/Khoisan people of Botswana

The San/Khoisan people of Botswana

Botswana Facts on Language and Culture

The official language of Botswana is English. Most of the ethnic groups speak Setswana (or Tswana) which is the lingua franca, although there are a few that do not. About 90% of Batswana actually speak Setswana. There are other smaller languages that are spoken in Botswana such as Kalanga, Sarwa and Ndebele, and in some parts, Afrikaans.

The different languages and cultures vary in customs and behaviours. While modernisation has greatly influenced the Batswana, traditional customs are maintained for the most part. Traditional music from Botswana is characterised by use of string instruments and vocals. Drums are sometimes used, depending on the occasion. There are other instruments used such as the phala (a type of whistle used in celebrations) and the Setinkane (a type of thumb piano/kalimba, known as mbira in Zimbabwe).

Botswana in Pictures

Below are a few images of different places and people in Botswana:

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Pictures of Botswana

Botswana's capital city - Gaborone
Gaborone at night
A raft race on the Gaborone Dam
The casino inside Gaborone Sun hotel
Gaborone International Conference Centre
Maun Airport - gatway to the Okavango Delta
On the Kazungula Ferry crossing the Zambezi
Horse safari in Makgadikgadi
Lunch on the Makgadikgadi salt pans
A safari lodge on the Kwando River
The great zebra migration
An antelope in the Moremi Game reserve
Elephant in the Savute area
Aerial view of part of the Okavango Delta
Chapmans Baobab tree near the Makgadikgadi Pans
Baskets made in botswana
Traditional dancers doing a bush dance
A family of the bushmen tribe
Donkey cart in rural Botswana

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