Lefatshe la Botswana
Republic of Botswana
Quick Facts About the Country
Capital - Gaborone
Government - Parliamentary republic
Currency - pula (BWP)
Area - 600,370 km2
Population - 1,591,232
Language - English (official), Setswana
Religion - Indigenous beliefs 85%, Christian 15%
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked nation in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on September 30, 1966. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Namibia to the west, Zambia to the north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. The economy, closely tied to South Africa's, is predominated by mining (especially diamonds), cattle, and tourism. The country is named after its largest ethnic group, the Tswana.
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Weather and Climate
In general, Botswana has a semiarid subtropical climate. The average annual rainfall varies from about 640 mm (about 25 in) in the north to less than 230 mm (less than 9 in) in the Kalahari. Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months (December to April). Precipitation, however, is undependable, and the country is subject to drought. Savanna vegetation predominates in most parts of Botswana, and consists of grasslands interspersed with trees. Principal (tree) species include acacia, bloodwood, and Rhodesian teak.
(Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003)
Major Travel and Tourism Info (Travel Guide)
Major Nature and Wildlife Destinations
Okavango Delta -A unique geological formation where a delta is formed by a river (the Okavango) flowing into the Kalahari desert instead of the ocean.
Chobe National Park - A great place to see wildlife, and a good point from which to move on to Victoria Falls (located in Zambia and Zimbabwe).
Kgalagadi Transfontier Park
Traveling by plane
Botswana's main airport is Sir Seretse Khama in Gaborone. Most flights arriving in Botswana are from Johannesburg in South Africa.
There are several entry points by road to Botswana: In the south at Gaborone, providing access from Johannesburg; in the west providing access from Namibia;the north providing access from Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe; and at Francistown in the east, providing access from Harare. All road access is good and the primary roads within Botswana are paved and well maintained.
There is regular bus service from Johannesburg to Gaborone, which takes six hours. There is also service from Windhoek, Namibia via the Caprivi Strip which will drop you in Chobe National Park, in northern Botswana. There is also bus service from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. See Intercape Mainliner for information on service from Namibia and Zimbabwe. Private shuttles ran until 2004 from Windhoek directly to Maun and in late 2005, such a service was starting up again.
Through a combination of coaches, combies and trains, you can get anywhere in Botswana without any trouble, though public transport is spotty away from big cities and major axes but hitchhiking is popular and very easy. The roads are paved and well maintained, so travel by car is also not a problem.
Language and Communication
The language of business in Botswana is English and everyone speaks it. The primary indigenous tongue is Setswana, and is the mother tongue of the overwhelming majority of the population. It is not difficult to learn basic greetings and such, and using these in conversation will make people very happy.
Setswana- Hello – Dumela (dumela ra when addressing men, dumela ma when addressing women)
Botswana's currency is the Pula; 100 Thebe = 1 Pula. In Setswana, pula means "rain" and thebe means "shield." Rough conversions are 5:1 (USD) 6:1 (EUR), 10:1 (GBP) and 1:1.3 (South African Rand).
The University of Botswana is located in Gaborone.
People in Botswana are very friendly and the crime rate is low. There isn't much to worry about on this front. (Botswana is the setting for the popular mystery series by Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and was also the location for the 1980 movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy").
Botswana's HIV infection rate, estimated at 40%, is the highest reported in the world. Exercise regular universal precautions when dealing with any bodily fluid and remain aware of this high rate of infection.
The northern part of Botswana, including Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta is in a malarial zone, so consult a doctor before leaving and take approprate precautions when travelling in these areas.
The drinking water is safe, unless otherwise indicated.
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History in Brief: Summary
Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name upon independence in 1966. Four decades of uninterrupted civilian leadership, progressive social policies, and significant capital investment have created one of the most dynamic economies in Africa.
Mineral extraction, principally diamond mining, dominates economic activity, though tourism is a growing sector due to the country's conservation practices and extensive nature preserves.
Botswana has one of the world's highest known rates of HIV/AIDS infection, but also one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease.
(The World Factbook 2006)
Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003
The World Factbook 2006
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