Novelist and human rights campaigner Unity Dow was appointed a High
Court judge in 1998, the first woman to hold the post.
Scholarships for postgraduate study are awarded by Botswana to citizens
of other Commonwealth countries under the Commonwealth Scholarship and
Botswana was the largest producer of gem-quality diamonds in the world
in 2012, a position it has held since it displaced Australia in 1999.
Joined Commonwealth: 1966
Population: 2,021,000 (2013)
GDP: 2.8% p.a. 1990–2013
UN HDI: World ranking 109
Official language: Setswana, English
Timezone: GMT plus 2hr
Currency: pula (P)
Area: 582,000 sq km
Capital city: Gaborone
Population density (per sq. km): 3
The Republic of Botswana is a large, roughly circular, landlocked
plateau in the centre of Southern Africa, bordered by South Africa,
Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Gaborone (capital, pop. 244,900 in 2014), Francistown (104,600 in 2014),
Molepolole (66,466 in 2011), Maun (60,263 in 2011), Mogoditshane (58,079
in 2011), Selebi-Phikwe (52,200 in 2014), Serowe (50,820 in 2011), Kanye
(47,007 in 2011), Mochudi (44,815 in 2011), Mahalapye (43,298 in 2011),
Palapye (37,256 in 2011), Tlokweng (36,323 in 2011), Lobatse (30,700 in
2014), Ramotswa (28,952 in 2011), Thamaga (21,471 in 2011) and Bobonong
(19,389 in 2011).
Most of Botswana’s main settlements are in the south-east of the
There are 25,800km of roads, 33% paved. The north-south highway links
South Africa with Zambia. The TransKalahari highway, completed in 1998,
links Botswana to Walvis Bay on the Namibian coast, shortening the route
between Johannesburg and the Namibian capital, Windhoek, and opening up
the hitherto inaccessible western regions of the country.
The 888-km railway line runs north-south along the eastern side of the
country from Plumtree in Zimbabwe to the border with South Africa.
Exports from Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Southern Africa use this line to
reach the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay. Local railway
lines service Botswana’s mining industries.
Air services operate to several regional destinations plus regular
domestic flights between Gaborone and Francistown, Maun, Selebi-Phikwe,
Ghanzi, Pont Drift and Kasane.
Botswana is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of
States, African Union, Non-Aligned Movement, Southern African Customs
Union, Southern African Development Community, United Nations and World
Botswana hosts the headquarters of the Southern African Development
Community in Gaborone.
The average elevation of the country is 1,000m. To the south-east are
hills, the highest being 1,491m Otse Mountain near Lobatse. In the
north-west are the Tsodilo Hills, famous for rock-paintings. Also in the
north-west, the Okavango river flows into an enormous inland delta, home
of a great variety of wildlife. To the north-east is the salt desert of
the Makgadikgadi Pans. However, about 85% of the country consists of the
tableland of the Kalahari desert, a vast sandveld.
Botswana lies across the Tropic of Capricorn. The climate ranges from
semi-arid through subtropical to temperate. Eastern Botswana is
temperate, with enough rainfall to support arable farming, but rainfall
decreases and temperature range increases westwards and southwards.
Summer (October to April) is the rainy season and is very hot. Rainfall
varies from 650mm per annum in the east to 230mm in the south-west. May
to October is usually dry. In winter the nights can be cold and
sometimes frosty, especially in the desert. Mean maximum temperature at
Gaborone is 32.5°C. From August, annual seasonal winds cross the
Kalahari from the west, raising dust and sandstorms.
The most significant environmental issues are overgrazing,
desertification and limited resources of fresh water.
Mostly dry savannah with grasslands and thornbush to semi-desert and
some true desert. Acacia, bloodwood and Rhodesian teak trees in the
forest in the north-west. Forest covers 20 per cent of the land area,
having declined at 0.9 per cent p.a. 1990–2010.
Wildlife is protected in the three national parks and five game
reserves, extending to 105,000 sq km or 18.5 per cent of the total land
area. The Okavango Delta supports a world-famous variety of water-birds
and attracts thousands of animals in the dry season. The Chobe National
Park, also in the north, has more than 50,000 elephants. The Gemsbok
National Park abuts South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok NP, which together
make one of the world’s biggest wilderness regions. The country has
recorded 164 species of mammals, seven of which are threatened with
The earliest inhabitants of Botswana were San or Basarwa (Bushmen) who
have been in the area an estimated 30,000 years. Their nomadic
hunter-gatherer lifestyle has left few traces except rock paintings
(there are some 3,500 paintings at 350 sites in the Tsodilo Hills). More
technologically advanced and powerful pastoral and agricultural Bantu
groups moved in from the northwest and east around the first and second
century CE. The first Setswana-speaking group, the Bakgalagadi, arrived
sometime in the 14th century. While there was plenty of land, the
different peoples coexisted peacefully but in the early 19th century,
Mzilikazi (a captain of Zulu chief Shaka) broke away and led a Zulu
force northwards. The local people were scattered and forced into more
The upheavals of the region were greatly exacerbated when, from around
1836, the Boer Trekkers, escaping British rule, began to arrive and
displace other groups. In the 1840s British missionaries David
Livingstone and Robert Moffat established stations among the Bakwena;
Moffat translated the Bible into Setswana.
In 1872 Khama III became chief of Bamangwato, one of the tribes of the
Batswana group. A capable general and Administrator, he secured immunity
from Matabele raids and increased order and stability. To avoid Boer
rule, particularly after the discovery of gold at Tati, Khama asked for
British protection; this was given in 1885. The terms were that Khama
retained control of administration, law and justice, while Britain was
responsible for security.
The territory south of the Molopo river was annexed to the Cape Colony
in 1895 while the rest remained under British protection as
Bechuanaland. A capital was chosen at Mafikeng, a town settled almost
exclusively by Tswana-speaking tribes. At Mafikeng, which was actually
in South Africa, outside the Protectorate, the now global boy scout
movement was started by Lord Baden-Powell. Bechuanaland successfully
resisted pressure to grant mining concessions to the British South
Africa Company and also (in 1909) successfully resisted becoming part of
Over the next half-century, the country languished: it became a provider
of cheap labour for South Africa’s mines, education and welfare were
neglected, and the administration came entirely into colonial hands.
In 1923 Khama III died; his son and successor, Sekgoma, died after being
in power only two years. Three-year-old Seretse Khama then inherited the
leadership, with his uncle, Tshekedi Khama, as Regent.
Seretse Khama’s accession in 1950 changed the tone of Bechuanaland
politics. While studying law in London, he married a white English
woman. This was rated as a serious breach of tribal custom in Botswana,
and also in racially segregated South Africa and Rhodesia. Seretse Khama
was forced to stand down as chief of the Ngwato. The UK yielded to
pressure and held him in exile until 1956. On his return to
Bechuanaland, Seretse Khama campaigned for change and in the 1960s
founded the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). Its policy sought a
non-racial and democratic but traditional society in which chiefs and
traditional courts still had a role.
In 1960 a representative legislative council was set up; there was now a
formal negotiating mechanism and independence was achieved in a series
of peaceful moves. Central authority was strengthened, the position of
the chiefs and African courts defined. The seat of government was
transferred from Mafikeng to Gaborone. In the pre-independence elections
of 1965, the BDP won 28 of the 31 elective seats. The country achieved
independence as a republic on 30 September 1966 with Seretse Khama as
Seretse Khama led the country from 1965 until his death in 1980, when he
was succeeded by Dr Quett Masire, formerly
Vice-President, who was knighted as Sir Ketumile Masire in 1991.
Although the BDP had easily won every election since multiparty
democracy was established in 1965, in the general election of 1994 the
main opposition party, the Botswana National Front (BNF), won 13 seats
(37 per cent of the vote) as against the BDP’s 27 seats (54 per cent),
with the smaller parties failing to win any seats.
In November 1997 at the age of 73, President Masire announced he would
retire in March 1998. On 1 April 1998 Festus Mogae, who had served as
Vice-President since 1992, was sworn in as President. He also became
leader of the BDP. The only new member of Mogae’s first cabinet was Ian
Khama (son of former President Sir Seretse Khama), who retired as
commander of the Botswana Defence Force to take up the key post of
Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration and was
appointed Vice-President in July 1998.
Botswana: Africa's success story
In 2016 Botswana celebrates its Golden Jubilee. Gained independence in
1966 as 2nd poorest nation in the world & the British said has the
lowest chances to succeed as a viable country. We share its
achievements. Due to time & space limitations I could not write
Botswana, South Africa Documentary Nature
and Animal Film
Gaborone 2016 - Botswana
Gaborone was built from scratch by Batswana at indepenced 1966. Botswana
was the 2nd poorest nation, today has highest standard of living in
Africa, free education up to tertiary. Free healthcare. Pictures &
Videos courtesy of Aljazeera, Lucian Coman, Imagelounge, ProVision,
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