Botswana

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BOTSWANA

Botswana's strength is derived from its natural abundance of minerals and wildlife. With a population of less than 3 people per square km, a sound economic base and an unscathed history of political stability, Botswana is one of Africa's brightest prospects for the new millenium.

From the wetlands in the north to the dry dune fields of the south, Botswana boasts a species count of 164 different mammals, including the Big 5 and 550 birds, many of which are unique and have adapted to living in the vast dry sands of the Kalahari Desert. 

Situated in the heart of Southern Africa, Botswana is still wild and untamed - one of the few remaining destinations that are unspoiled by civilisation.

botswana is home to numerous WORLD RECORDS!
- the largest network of private game reserves and conservation areas
- the largest elephant population
- the largest stretch of wind-blown sand
- the largest area of salt pans
- the fastest growing economy
- the largest inland delta
- the largest zebra migrations
- the largest exporter of gemstone diamonds
- SCI's Top 1 & 2 lion
- SCI's No. 1 cape buffalo

Quick Facts - The capital of Botswana is Gaborone, a sprawling urban hub which is amongst the fastest growing cities in the world. In the flag, the white-edged black strip represents both Botswana's black and white peoples and the blue represents rain, life and fertility in the desert. In 1862, the painter Thomas Baines, made famous seven gnarled baobab trees in the eastern region.

Population - Botswana is very thinly populated and its population of less than 3 people per square kilometre is one of the lowest in the world (1.4-million). Much of the population is concentrated around the urban areas due to the country's exceptional economic growth.

Original inhabitants are the San (bushmen) who have lived in the Kalahari for more than 30 000 years. A  Bantu people, the Tswana, arrived about 2000 years ago who were agro-pastoralists and went to war to protect their livestock. The discovery of gold brought many Boers/Afrikaners and Europeans to the land. but there is still a large rural community relying on subsistence farming. Large ethnic groups include the Batswana, the Kalanga, the Basarwa and the Kgalagadi.

While Setswana is the national language, English is widely spoken and is generally considered the official language, the language of business. On record there are 30 languages spoken country-wide, many of which are close to extinction. Christianity is widespread but several other religions including the popular local Baha'i freely exist.

At independence in 1966, Botswana was one of the poorest African countries. Diamonds were discovered the very next year and now form the core of this economy which is experiencing growth faster than even Singapore. It is now one of the richest countries per capita in Africa.

History - Gold discoveries in the late 1800s attracted the interest of the Boers/Afrikaners which led to the establishment of Bechuanaland as a British Protectorate administered by the British from South Africa. 

Kgotla traditions were the forefathers of Botswana's modern democratic politics when the country gained its independence in 1966. Led by Sir Seretse Kharma, a politically stable republic with multi-party democracy was established. Elections every five years sees an elected president and parliament - Sir Seretse Kharma's Botswana Democratic Party current in power. There is also a House of Chiefs which ensures representation of tribal leaders.

Economy - The government has embarked on a major drive to diversify the economy so as to reduce dependence on diamonds. Manufacturing, tourism and lately, financial services are burgeoning industries in their own right. Other natural resources include copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore and silver. It is also a large beef exporter to the European Economic Community (no mad cows here!).

Coupled with this are the country's investor-friendly policies including a low rate of taxation and no exchange controls.

Geography & Climate - Botswana experiences typical semi-desert conditions - hot and dry. Summers are long, from October to April and very hot with temperatures easily reaching 40C. The rainy season from December to  March but less than 300mm of rain falls.

Geographic co-ordinates: 22 00 S, 24 00 E

Botswana is mainly a broad, flat, arid subtropical plateau and is considered a semi-desert. Kalahari sands take up 85% of the 600 370km2 country - slightly smaller than Texas. With only 2% of arable land, there are some gently rolling hills in the east and the highest point are the Tsodilo Hills. The lowest point in the country is the often flooded Limpopo and Sashe rivers' confluence while the country averages 100m above sealevel.

Natural hazards include periodic droughts and westerly seasonal winds in August which carry sand and can obscure visibility.

Shopping & Food - most typical of this area are the hand-woven baskets. If you are heading west of the Okavango then head for Etsa where they are made. The many San or Bushman crafts are also unique to this area. Handmade jewellery and of course, you can always visit the diamond factories in Molepolole.

Definitely you must sample their beef. Botswana's free range beef is the best in the region if not the world! In fact it is so good that Botswana is one of the few countries that are allowed to export beef to Europe! Also try Seswa, a local dish of shredded beef with pap, spinach and beans. Pap is the local maize meal. And of course, in season, try dried mopane worms, a real local delicacy.

GENERAL INFORMATION
- Botswana Government
- Botswana
- Profile & Information Sources
- CIA Fact Book
- Consular information
- World Bank

HEALTH
- Centre for Disease Control & Prevention

 

Zambia's impressive Lions

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lion in Kafue

Picture taken at season end in  our Luangwa concession

 

 

 

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