Untarnished, expansive and exquisite. Botswana is greatly respected by its people and one of the few African countries to realise the importance of ecological preservation and low impact tourism.
Unique in its diversity of regions – green wetlands, forested islands tapering into riverbanks and rivers that eventually run dry into the parched sands of the Kalahari Desert – to see Botswana is to experience the Real Africa. Wild, unexpected and beautiful.
Botswana was first inhabited by the semi-nomadic San people, bantu-speaking tribes from the north who moved into the area before the first millennium.
In 1885, to counter Boer expansion from South Africa and Ndebele incursions from the north, Bechuanaland came under British protection. By 1895, Rhodes' British South Africa Company hoped to annex Bechuanaland, prompting three Botswana chiefs to persuade Queen Victoria to keep their land under British control.
The British administered the Bechauanaland Protectorate until 1966 when it granted the Botswana full independence under the leadership of Sir Seretse Khama. Diamonds were discovered in 1967 which brought rapid growth to Botswana.
Today, the country boasts an enviable record of democracy and human rights, healthy foreign reserves and is considered one of Africa's economic success stories.
Botswana in Detail
Botswana is a landlocked country 581 730 square kilometres in extent. It is roughly the size of France and nearly 17% of the country is made up of protected wildlife areas.
1.7 million (2001 census), projected to reach 2.6 million by the year 2021. An estimated 180 000 people live in Gaborone, the capital, with more than 65 000 in Francistown.
The official language is English and the national language is Setswana.
Local currency is the Pula and Thebe. Notes are in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50 and P100. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 Thebe, P1 and P2.